What's in a word is more than just language -- there's assignment of culpability, patient personhood, a world of feeling that is often, and for critical reason, removed from the linguistics of medical speak.
At the recent 40th anniversary dinner of the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at San Francisco's beautiful City Hall rotunda, a tablemate remarked "If the big quake hit now and this place collapsed, American health care would have to start all over."
I was on rotation, and a couple came in after a botched attempt at a home delivery. One by one, the baby's systems shut down. As instructed, I just kept adding stuff to keep him alive. Nothing was working. I was 26, depressed, and started to cry.
Each Medicare patient feels entitled to have it with few strings attached. But the truth is that it is one more tax-funded program. Just like the stimulus money. Just like the wars. Just like everything else.