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Your Views: Much of health debate is taken out of context
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It now appears fashionable to denigrate elected officials, as in "do you know what those idiots in Congress are doing now?"

Should we not remember that each of those members of Congress were elected by us? Does not our apparent loss of confidence in our Congress reflect on our judgment in sending them there?

Judging by e-mails and an Aug. 1 letter by Carol Bush, we appear not only to have lost confidence in our elected representatives, but also believe they are capable of nefarious and immoral acts, particularly in health care reform.

She urges everyone to read the proposed bill and states that "seniors will be required to sit down ... every five years." Actually, this section of the proposed bill is simply adding a new service, specifying that this option is available no more than every five years unless there has been a change in your life. This is not a requirement, simply an option.

Ms. Bush raises no objection to hospitals where you frequently encounter the question "do you have a living will?" This section of the proposed bill, providing you with the opportunity to discuss your desires with a person who is knowledgeable about the various services available to you, is no more binding than are the signs in the hospital.

She is not alone in her misinterpretation of this proposed bill as supporting "assisted suicide." Apparently sensing some political advantage, the American Family Association is publishing a list of questions they urge be asked of representatives in Congress. The AFA, on its Web site, claims the proposed legislation supports euthanasia and rationing of health care, and urges you to obtain pledges from your representatives that they will never vote for laws that encourage "assisted suicide." Well, duh!

As support for their claims of contemplated health care rationing, the AFA quotes a statement attributed to "Obama's special health policy advisor Ezekiel Emanuel (who) wrote that if health care has to be rationed, he prefers the ‘complete lives system,' which ‘discriminates against older people.'"

Nothing beats quoting out of context when it suits your purposes. Actually, the document quoted out of context by AFA is a theoretical discussion of how to allocate medical resources in times of scarcity. The article points out that in the 1940s an expert committee, without public input, allocated scarce penicillin to American soldiers ahead of civilians, and in the 1960s, committees in Seattle allocated scarce dialysis machines using prognosis, current health, social worth and dependents as criteria.

The publication's authors then pose the question "How can scarce medical interventions be allocated justly?" and discuss several models, of which the "complete lives system" was one. The article discusses moral and other issues facing someone who has to make decisions on how to best utilize scarce medical resources, such as the "triage" system now in use at hospital emergency rooms. The document cited by the AFA can be accessed on the Internet. I strongly urge interested people to read it.

In short, there is significant document misinterpretation being widely publicized, mostly by people hoping to accrue political advantage from so doing.

Earl B. Jackson
Flowery Branch

Where's our health care ‘town hall' meeting in Hall?
According to a recent conversation with staff at Rep. Nathan Deal's Gainesville office, he is planning two town hall meetings on health care in the 9th District during the congressional August recess. Unfortunately, neither of these will be in Hall County, one of the two most populous counties in the district.

Instead, Rep. Deal has chosen to make his only public comments in Hall County on this important and complex issue by responding to an invitation from the Greater Hall Chamber to participate, along with Rep. Phil Gingrey, in a Chamber event that, because of significant interest, has been opened to the public.

According to Chamber officials, this will not be a town hall-type forum where active debate will be encouraged, nor will there be any formal presentation of points of view other than those held by Reps. Deal and Gingrey.

While the Chamber is to be thanked for arranging this "information session," it is regrettable that our representative to Congress apparently feels that this appearance fulfills his obligation to enter into serious discussion with so many of his constituents. It is hoped that he will reconsider his decision and hold some type of actual public forum in Hall County.

Mike Freeman
Chairman, Hall County Democratic Committee, Gainesville

Hall needs anti-tether law
When is the Hall County commission going to enact an anti-tether ordinance to prevent cruelty to animals in Hall County? Since the county it seems is trying to be progressive, shouldn't this be on the commission's agenda?

Dana Kanaday
Clermont

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