The agony which profit-driven medical care is causing in America can be seen in the fact that life-saving technology is not getting to all the people who need it. We deplore this. For example, blood screening tests for newborns developed recently can prevent thousands of babies and children from getting crippling diseases. But hardly any infants are getting these tests. Using tandem mass spectrometry, the tests identify over thirty hereditary defects. These defects — striking one in 4,500 newborns — are treatable by changing a child’s diet, but deadly when undetected. In "Big Gap in Screening U.S. Infants for Hereditary Ills" (New York Times) there is this account of two babies: one who was tested and one who was not:
In "Ethics — the Only Answer for the Economy!" Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, explains: "Once you are after profit, you can’t be too interested in what people deserve…it will cramp your ability to make money from them."
Despite reports to the contrary, the much-touted "success" of the American economy is a fraud. People are angrier and more fearful than ever because of the prohibitive cost of health care, prescription drugs, and the increasing cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. In our "prospering" economy, millions of Americans are forced to live without health insurance. Eli Siegel stated "While one child needs something he hasn’t got, the profit system is a failure." And he said with beautiful passion: "Nobody should ever have to pay for having his body [cared for], even if he wanted to pay….The idea of people worried about their health [and] worried about money is barbarous. It’s ego corruption."
The ill will in health care is apparent in this statement from the Times article by Dr. Richard I. Kelley, an expert on metabolic disease:
Ten years ago, I could say to…families that there was no way we…could have prevented these deaths or injuries…Today…I can no longer say [they were] unavoidable.Health care must be based on good will. Mr. Siegel defined good will as "the hope of a person that good things happen to things (things include people); with the desire to know what those good things are." He explained: "Where good will so far has shown its power is in sad results all over the world through its absence." The ruined lives of so many children, like that of Bryce Burke, are some of these sad results.
We respect the parents, scientists, doctors and people in government working together to make expanded newborn screening universal and publicly funded. We have learned that for the American health care system to be fair to all people, it is crucial that the life of a baby in Indiana, California, New York be seen as real as one's own. For this to be, it is necessary for legislators, doctors and all Americans to answer this ethical question stated by Eli Siegel: "What does a person deserve by being alive?"
Aesthetic Realism is taught in New York City at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation; 212-777-4490; www.AestheticRealism.org.
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