ED Won\'t Kill You...

But the Health Bureaucracy may. The big medical controversy this week is Medicare's decision to cover drugs for erectile dysfunction. Obviously, this will not sit well with many people:

"The thought of Medicare wasting vital resources on performance-enhancing drugs is unconscionable, especially at a time when the focus should be on providing for truly needy seniors."

This is from everyone's favorite socialist presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, who has proposed a bill to add anti-ED drugs to the short list of non-covered medications, along with weight-loss drugs, cosmetic treatments, and fertility treatments. (How many seniors need fertility treatments? Way to cut the fat there, guys!)

Now, I'm not going to spend too much time and energy going to the mat for Viagra, Levitra, et al. Hell, I think it probably was a bad decision, too, given the choice between a) Medicare covering these drugs, and b) Medicare not covering them. Actually I prefer what's behind door number three, where Medicare joins that great bureaucrat in the sky.

But what I would like to point out is the obvious: this is what happens when government makes decisions on how its health care dollars get spent. Things get cut. Now, nobody is going to cry too much about this; but how does one decide what's "medically necessary"? And why on earth should government officials be the ones to make those decisions (doctors or not)? The reply will be that ED drugs are obviously not necessary - to which, my reply is, "no, it is not so obvious." I can think of two examples: 1) what about young paraplegics who have little retained sexual function? (I know that this does not apply to Medicare, obviously, but I'm just arguing the necessity part), and 2) what about people who need to be on anti-depressants but won't take them because of the sexual side effects? There may be counterarguments to these, but I'm having a hard time seeing those as any different than, say, prosthetic legs that are not necessary to living, and many psychiatric drugs that mostly improve quality of life.

You may even agree with this and reply that exceptions for these cases can be made. But, geez, are bureaucrats and legislators going to be able to account for all circumstances? The larger point here is that national health insurance supporters are being disingenuous when they argue that these types of things won't happen. Of course they will. While they would laugh at me for holding up Viagra as an example, my qustion is: So where exactly does it stop? And are you going to like it when it gets there?

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I thought of this post as I

I thought of this post as I was climbing back into the chair I fell out of laughing while reading this letter to the editor in the Washington Post. The letter (from Sat, Feb 12th), goes like this:

"I am stunned by your newspaper's attitude about covering Viagra for seniors [editorial, Feb. 4]. I have never seen such a hard-hearted opinion and condescending editorial in your paper. Do your editors think that just because people get old, they don't need sex anymore? Sex is basic for all human beings. I have no problem whatsoever with my tax dollars going to pay for intimacy and love in the Medicare population. They have enough problems, including depression, loneliness and isolation. If they and their doctors believe that Viagra will help them, then they need it and Medicare should cover it."

So there! What's wrong with you people? Have you no compassion?

So where exactly does it

So where exactly does it stop? And are you going to like it when it gets there?

By making the collective beaurocracy the ultimate arbiter of value, instead of the individual, you insure that the maximum amount of people will be unhappy. Where does it stop? Who knows. Wherever the "ultimate arbiters of value" say it stops. But one thing is for sure, wherever it stops, it will be sacrificing individual evaluation for some "greater collective good". And this is not an acceptable situation.

Getting it up,

Getting it up, socialistically.

Wow. What a concept.