Daily Beast's Sepkowitz Suggests Bush's Doctors Should've Done 'Nothing' For His Heart

August 7th, 2013 1:37 PM

George W. Bush should’ve waited to have a heart attack, hints Daily Beast contributor Kent Sepkowitz, in a story exploiting the 43rd president's emergency procedure yesterday to insert a stent in his coronary artery.

After a few paragraphs replete with medical jargon, Sepkowitz argued that Bush probably should’ve waited a while before having the procedure, and held out the quick treatment for the blockage as a prime example of how our health care system in America is "broken." Providing prompt preventative heart care for a 67-year-old man is evidence of a "broken" system?!   Only a depraved anti-Bush liberal could use a possibly life threatening health condition as a commentary on health care politics – and sequestration, and that's precisely where Sepkowitz ran with his screed:

What do you know—minding his own business, staying busy in Dallas, W has stepped into some of what his father might have called deep doo-doo. He now finds himself stationed in the battlefield of America’s rip-roaring health-care debate about who should get what. Study after study has shown that America spends the most for health care and still finishes a dismal 15th or worse in most health indicators. Ever the leader, W (and Warren Buffett and countless others) now shows us why. In addition to the skimming off the top created by our byzantine system of payment and repayment, which is a topic for another day, we have costly health care because we treat countless people who reside in the gray zone of clinical uncertainty. They have early prostate cancer, early coronary disease, early breast cancer, early this and early that. We don’t know if they need treatment or not—but we can’t stand to do nothing. Waiting is for wimps. So we treat.

The problem extends to the vocabulary of illness as well, where radioactive terms have conferred fear and loathing to conditions that actually aren't so bad. Our ability to detect disease has sprinted far past our ability to manage it, and the trend shows no signs of letting up. 

But it gets worse: it turns out the only way to better health, even for swank ex-presidents, is to illuminate the shady areas with research. Which costs money. Taxpayer dollars. Taxpayer dollars that the unconscionable sequester is now withholding to the tune of 5 percent of the National Institutes of Health budget, or $1.55 billion

W and his aging ilk soon may find that all those sequestered dollars actually are used to help doctors study a problem, not to those vaguely assigned “bureaucrats” who want to make you fill out a form. With fewer dollars, there will be fewer people studying fewer problems—and just maybe no one will be around to help with a study that addresses the next health problem of a former president.

But actually it gets even worse yet. Bush 43 won't necessarily need a million-dollar heart transplant like his old sidekick Dick Cheney or even a $200,000 left ventricular assist device (which Cheney also had, pre-transplant), but he now is officially a health-care consumer like so many other 67-year-olds.

Sepkowitz dragging the former Vice President into the mix calls to mind how NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman made a complaint about how Dick Cheney wasn't rationed out of a critical transplant.

On the March 26 broadcast of the Today show, she literally said that Cheney’s heart transplant “raised a lot of ethical questions, moral questions, about whether the Vice President, in fact, should have received his heart against – ahead of other people. And, raises the question, how old is too old to receive such a precious transplant?"

In all, Sepkowitz is taking the “don’t get sick position” when it comes to treating various ailments.   OK, maybe it’s more aligned with the “wait and see” mindset, but whom, in the case of George Bush, waits to have a possibly fatal heart attack?   Yet, the real question is what does George Bush’s heart problem have to do with American health care, anti-tax politics, or Dick Cheney?  Get well soon, Mr. President.