Char­lie Gard

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Char­lie Gard is an 11-mon­thold baby in Eng­land who has what ap­pears to be an in­cur­able and ter­mi­nal dis­ease. The doc­tors and hos­pi­tal there have given up hope, and his par­ents al­most had, too, un­til they heard that there might be one last treat­ment or ther­apy which could pos­si­bly help him. The sin­gle-payer health-care sys­tem there wasn’t go­ing to pay for such a ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment in an­other coun­try.

So Char­lie’s par­ents crowd­sourced $1.7 mil­lion to help pay the costs, in­clud­ing to trans­port lit­tle Char­lie across the At­lantic. New York’s Columbia-Pres­by­te­rian Hos­pi­tal of­fered to use its fa­cil­i­ties to try the treat­ment. De­spite the par­ents’ hopes to take their child to Amer­ica, the Bri­tish hos­pi­tal re­fused.

The case was ap­pealed, but a court in Eng­land re­fused to let Char­lie go. It was then ap­pealed to the Euro­pean Union’s high court. It also re­fused.

Upon hear­ing this, the Pope in Rome of­fered to re­ceive Char­lie at its hos­pi­tal where the treat­ments could be tried. Don­ald Trump also of­fered any sup­port the United States could pro­vide to help Char­lie. It is hard to think of Char­lie hav­ing any greater of­fers of sup­port.

There was an­other court hear­ing on Mon­day, and the par­ents were given 48 hours to present ev­i­dence that this treat­ment might work. It’s un­der­stand­able that Eng­land’s sin­gle-payer health-care sys­tem would not pay any of th­ese ex­penses. In­deed, an in­sur­ance com­pany in Amer­ica prob­a­bly would not pay for such an ex­per­i­men­tal pro­ce­dure, ei­ther. But Char­lie’s par­ents are not ask­ing any­one else to pay ex­penses. They raised the money them­selves to try to save the life of their own child.

They have the sup­port of the Pope, the pres­i­dent of the United States, and gen­er­ous donors from around the world. But in this case, the gov­ern­ment owned-and-op­er­ated sin­gle-payer health-care sys­tem says it knows what’s best for Char­lie, not his fam­ily.

We cer­tainly un­der­stand the de­bates over the enor­mous cost of end-of-life health-care ex­penses. But it seems that de­bate is ir­rel­e­vant in Char­lie’s case, since Char­lie’s fam­ily has raised do­na­tions from around the world in one last chance to save his life.

This en­tire sit­u­a­tion raises the specter of what Amer­ica would look like un­der a sin­gle-payer health-care sys­tem. We can see the gov­ern­ment mak­ing eco­nomic de­ci­sions on what drugs and treat­ments pa­tients should re­ceive, which is trou­bling enough. But once it gets to make all the de­ci­sions, not just eco­nomic ones, it can then make moral de­ci­sions, in­deed end-of-life de­ci­sions, that are not even tied to health-care costs.

We have to won­der if Bernie San­ders had a grand­child who was in an iden­ti­cal sit­u­a­tion to Char­lie, and we had a sin­gle-payer health­care sys­tem in Amer­ica, and Bernie’s fans had raised $1.7 mil­lion for one last chance to save his life, how Bernie and his wife would feel if a bu­reau­crat and a court told him no.

We can’t imag­ine that hap­pen­ing in Amer­ica. Hope­fully it never will.

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