What Death Panels? Sebelius Won’t Help Dying Pennsylvania Girl Needing Transplant

What Death Panels? Sebelius Won’t Help Dying Pennsylvania Girl Needing Transplant

“Someone lives and someone dies.” —Kathleen Sebelius, June 4, 2013

Remember when Sarah Palin warned us about “Death Panels” that would inevitably arise from the federal government shoving its collective nose into our private health care via the “train wreck” known as ObamaCare? She was immediately and viciously mocked, and deemed nothing but a tin foil-hatted conspiracy theorist. Well, this week, with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius leading the charge, those theoretical Death Panels seem to have reared their monstrous heads.

In classic automaton D.C. bureaucrat hard-heartedness, Kathleen Sebelius is refusing to waive regulations that would remove the red-tape highway blocking the path to possible life for a young girl needing a life-saving lung transplant. Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, a cystic fibrosis patient, is two years short of qualifying as an adult to receive the procedure. All Sebelius would need to do is waive the lung allocation policy while HHS reviews it for potential flaws, according to Representative Tom Price, a medical doctor. But, ever the spinning bureaucrat, she’s insisting it’s not within her power to do so. But lawmakers beg to differ, insisting a temporary waiver is well within her job description, since exceptions by HHS are granted every day, while medical professionals believe that Sarah would well tolerate adult-sized lungs. But Sebelius seems to view any interference as preferential treatment, dismissing the desperate pleas from Sarah’s family, legislators, and doctors.

“We don’t want preferential treatment for Sarah, we want equal treatment,” Sarah’s mother, Janet, insisted, begging for Sebelius’ assistance. “We want it to be a triage system like they do for everyone else where the sickest patient goes first and ones with ability to wait, wait.”

But others disagree that Sebelius has the power to intervene.

“’Should Sebelius step in and do something? No. She doesn’t have all the facts,’ said NYU bioethicist Art Caplan. Acting under pressure from a media savvy family ‘or the noisiest person in line’ is bad policy, he added.

Transplant policy in the U.S. is made and administered by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network working with the United Network for Organ Sharing under contract with HHS. It’s inherently charged and complex because there aren’t enough organs for everyone who needs them, and people do die waiting.”

In the meantime, little Sarah Murnaghan has just three to five weeks of precious life left, while Ms. Sebelius sits on her red tape-fettered hands denying Sarah the chance for life. In response to requests for assistance from a Congressional committee Tuesday, with a straight face Sebelius asked that a “‘transparent, deliberative’ review be done as soon as possible (read one year; two years; never), with the intent of identifying any potential improvements to this policy…” Quite curious, considering Sebelius is reportedly utilizing a secret email account to conduct less-than-transparent government business (KGS2@hhs.gov should you care to contact her). Perhaps she’s just too busy out (illegally?) fundraising for her own ObamaCare “baby” to care anything about saving the lives of ours. Which should scare the collective bejesus out of us all.

Ms. Sebelius, do the right thing, stop hiding behind your convenient bureaucratic regulations, stop practicing what some have deemed age discrimination, and grant this dying child a waiver until current policy can be reviewed. Otherwise, you will be confirming what many of us already knew about big government-run health care: A one-size-fits-all policy leads to life for some and death for others, all at the tenuous hands of a faceless, merciless paper shuffler.

Here is video from Tuesday’s Congressional hearing with HHS Secretary Sebelius:


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  • Bob Sprowl says:

    So this child gets moved to the top of the list because her mother screams the loudest. And another person dies instead. People die on these lists routinely. That is unfortunate but not a reason to allow this girl to move up the list.

  • Jodi G. says:

    Bob, I hear you, but Sarah was at the top of the children’s list. Yesterday afternoon, a judge issued an RO ordering Sebelius to waive that and allow her adult status, given that that policy is likely outdated, and Sarah is out of time. This is not special treatment as far as I can tell.

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