08/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Louisiana Republican Warns Of Organ Rationing That Already Occurs

Just a little while ago, GOP Rep. Steve Scalise from Louisiana was riven with concern over the terrifying prospect of government intervention in health care. He came armed with a sob story that really just goes to show the lengths to which people will go to obfuscate the underlying issues.

SCALISE: When you look at the bill, you start to realize what they're doing and proposing is the very government takeover where rationing of care would exist where a government bureaucrat can get in between the relationship of you and your doctor. It's the same thing that's happened in Canada, the same thing that's happened in England, where unfortunately just yesterday, we saw the story of a 22-year-old, who was denied life-saving care, denied a transplant by this government bureaucracy that exists in England that rations care.

Okay, in the first place, there is always an implicit rationing of care where organ transplantation is concerned, in every health care system, in every country that does organ transplants. Why is this? Well, to the best of my knowledge, WE CANNOT GROW ORGANS ON FARMS. Maybe someday, life will be like a Doctor Who episode, but for the moment, we have a finite supply, relative to demand. And that means that organs get rationed. What's more, there already is a substantial bureaucracy that makes the determination as to who gets what organ here, in America, with our "best health care in the world."

But! I'm curious about this terrible tragedy that unfolded in the socialist sweatcamp known as Great Britain, where this heroic 22-year-old was denied "life-saving care" by latter-day Marxist healthcare providers. I bet you are too! Well, I found the story of this young man, and all I can say is: PREPARE YOURSELF TO OVERDOSE ON THE PATHOS.

A 22-year-old British man who became an alcoholic as a teenager has died after doctors refused to give him a liver transplant.

Gary Reinbach began binge drinking when he was just 13 and ended up with severe cirrhosis of the liver.

He was admitted to a London hospital in May but died after doctors refused to give him a liver transplant amid fears he would not stay sober for six months after the operation.

Reinbach's mother insists that "he did everything he could to cooperate with the doctors," but those same doctors had to contend with the fact that "Mr Reinbach was one of the youngest people in Britain to die of advanced cirrhosis brought on by binge drinking."

Anyway, tragic story of medical ethics, true. Nevertheless, one has to wonder whether, if these doctors had opted to throw away a perfectly good liver on someone they had no confidence in taking care of it, the next person in line for a liver transplant might have something to say about the way this finite resource was rationed.

According to the American Liver Foundation, there are currently 17,000 Americans on the transplant waiting list. As far as how they are currently rationed, the ALF says:

The time that people spend waiting for a liver transplant varies widely. Blood type, body size, severity of illness and availability of donor organs all affect waiting time. Some people who develop sudden and complete liver failure from an acute illness may only have to wait a few days for a transplant. Other people, whose condition is less severe, may stay on the waiting list for many months.

Of course, your mileage may vary. And maybe, if you are, say ... Steve Jobs, you get to fully experience what everyone means when they say America has the finest health care in the world.

Nevertheless, it's clear that Representative Scalise is a far more empathetic person than I am! I would have figured him for one of those "politics of personal responsibility" types! I'm really looking forward to assessing his sure-to-be forthcoming "Unlimited Livers For Drunks Freedom America Awesome Act of 2009" on the merits.

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