Friday, August 14, 2009

Who Was Barbara Wagner?

I did not personally know Ms. Wagner, but she was first brought to my attention through an AARP magazine article approximately 1 year ago, and earlier this week, I heard through Fox News that she had passed away.

Barbara Wagner ( was a retired school bus driver in the State of Oregon. She was a cancer survivor and a participant in the state of Oregon's universal health care program. Sadly, after a few years of remission, Ms. Wagner's cancer returned.

As of today, our Federal Government, the States of Oregon and Massachusetts, and many others in our society would say, "Thank God for universal health care ... as a poorly paid school bus driver, Ms. Wagner probably wouldn't be able to afford treatment without it."

Ms. Wagner recently lost her battle with cancer. My heart grieves for her family and friends who will miss her for many years to come. What breaks my heart even more is that had Oregon's universal health care program had it's way, Ms. Wagner would have died a year ago. As far as I know, Oregon is the only state in our nation who recognizes "assisted suicide", euthanasia, as a form of medical treatment. Under this "medical treatment" definition, Oregon's universal health care program not only has the right but also a responsibility to tax payers to administer assisted suicide to those whom they believe are terminally ill or will not be of an asset to Oregon's future economic base.

When Ms. Wagner's cancer returned, this 60+ year old lady was told by Oregon's universal health care program that she did not "qualify" for this type of cancer's treatment(s). However, she did qualify for "assisted suicide" drugs. A cost difference of approximately $50.00 for one dose of assisted suicide drugs / $4,000 per dose of cancer drugs. When Ms. Wagner told the state of Oregon she was not interested in the "assisted suicide" treatment option. The state of Oregon told her assisted suicide was the ONLY option they would pay for.

Ms. Wagner, declined Oregon's offer to pay for assisted suicide. Her situation did not go unnoticed. The pharmaceutical firm that produces the medications specific to Ms. Wagner's type of cancer stepped up and paid for her treatment which gave Ms. Wagner an additional year of life. Ms. Wagner had another year to spend with those she loves and cares for most. She had an extra year to finalize her finances and business commitments. She had an additional year to unite her soul with the Lord, if needed. But without thanks to the State of Oregon.

There is a lesson in this true news story for ALL American citizens to learn. Although, as of today, our Federal Government does not recognize euthanasia as a medical treatment option, we do not know what the future holds. There are a growing number in our nation who are tirelessly working to spread pro - euthanasia legislation. I recently heard that the State of Washington was considering it (again, that was something I've heard, but not confirmed at the time of this writing). Through Oregon's universal health insurance program, the citizens of Oregon have given the state of Oregon the power to decided when a person's life should end.

We all know that the cost of a federal universal health care system for our nation will carry a price tag of more than one trillion dollars, an amount of money that most of us can not comprehend. How will our already indebted nation pay for it? From the view out my window, we can't. We simply do not have the money. EVERY sector of our nation, government, businesses, banks, health care, individuals, are literally drowning in debt. Under a federally managed universal health care program it will be absolutely imperative to cut and trim any and all costs not beneficial (immediately and long term) to tax payers. Our government says rationing will not occur under their system. According to the math, rationing is the ONLY way their system will work. If you don't think rationing occurs in our federal government's current health care plans, Medicare and Medicaid, you need to talk with those currently being treated under these plans. Under Medicare we have scores of Senior Citizens carrying Medicare Insurance Supplement policies because Medicare "doesn't cover that treatment, or this procedure". Under Medicaid, we have women with a mild case of fibroid tumors being told to get hysterectomies because in the long run, it's cheaper than on going treatment plans or another baby. I've then met women who told me that afterwards Medicaid will not pay for hormonal therapy. I won't even go into the cost of fraud and waste under these programs that is high enough to pay off our national debt.

How much money is your health and life worth? What is the value of your loved one's health and life? According to the state of Oregon $50.00. I think Oregon is a good example of what a federally funded universal health care program holds for our nation. How much does our federal government think a human life is worth?

Does our nation need changes to health care? Absolutely. However, six months to rushing through a hurried plan to fix something that took decades to break? Mind blowingly ludicrous. We should be looking at the areas that are broken and focus on those one at time. As it is, we are, as my late grandmother would say, "throwing the baby out with the bath water".

I send my gratitude to the friends and family of Ms. Wagner. Because they supported her decision to decline Oregon's treatment option of her cancer. All of America SHOULD be able to "see the writing on the wall" regarding the future of a national universal health care system.

Mrs. B

P.S. For those of you who may disagree with me, you have that right. However, it won't be necessary to infringe upon my Constitutional First Amendment Rights by forwarding my blog address to the White House regarding "fishy" internet communications about H.R. 3200. They already have my real name, address, telephone number, personal e-mail address, etc. They know what my opinions are and what I think because I e-mail, write, and call my Congressman, Senators and Mr. Obama quite regularly.


  1. I am so glad that there are sincere people like you out there who really care about others and are concerned for the welfare of even complete strangers.

    What's interesting about your post though is that Barbara Wagner was on Medicaid, not on "universal health coverage." Better funding Medicaid would be a way to get people like her the expensive drugs that they need when a crisis happens. I'd be willing to have my taxes increased so that people in Barbara Wagner's situation are given better options.

    Furthermore, the health care plan in Congress right now does not in any way shape or form legalize assisted suicide. That's a crazy Oregon thing.

    Finally, many Americans, because they lack healthcare coverage or only have catastrophic plans, are under defacto rationing. Their insurance companies, many times, do not pay for the procedures that are necessary. This happened recently with my father who could not get his insurance company to give him the type of insulin he needs for medical diabetes he developed from surgery when he served in the United States military. Fortunately, he had the option of going to the V.A. and getting what he needed from them. If he did not have that option, his life would have been in needlessly danger . . . even though he has health insurance!

    Again, we need more concerned and sensitive Americans like you; that being said, the Barbara Wagner case, while tremendously tragic, has little bearing on the current health care debate.

  2. Anon,

    First of all I want to thank you for the respect you showed in the areas where you disagree with me. Also, thank you for pointing out Ms. Wagner's participation in Medicare ... however, the article I read in AARP last year AND the news report I viewed on Fox News reported that she was a participant in Oregon's universal state ran healthcare program.

    As stated in my post, our federal government does NOT currently recognize euthanasia as a legal medical procedure. However, HR 3200 does not guarantee protection from a future of nationally leagalize euthanasia. And until today, it did contain language regarding some sort of required end of life counseling for senior citizens every five years. The language was broad and left too much room for future "interpretation" for me to be comfortable with. Fortunately, today's news reports indicate that that portion of the bill will be removed.

    I also pointed out that MANY senior citizens MUST carry supplemental health insurance policies because Medicare does not cover all procedures they may be in need of. Medicaid recepients are routinely sent off to the cheapest route without consideration of the long term effects the "less expensive" treatment will have on the person's quality of life. Medicare and Medicaid are "government ran" healthcare systems. Both programs curretnly "ration" health care based upon $$$. Why would our federal government stop health care rationing when it increases the number of recipients to a government health care plan? Medicare and Medicaid are both on the brink of bankruptcy. Niether program has been adequately managed. How could anyone believe our federal government could possibly manage 380 million people's health care when they can't even effectively manage our current medicare and medicaid programs?

    I also agree that health care in America needs reform. However, I still do not understand why it is necessary to lump approximately 85% of our population who is satisfied with thier current health care options into this rushed and not very well thought out revamping of the entire system because of only approximately 15% of the population. From the view out my window, we need to focus on the 15% who are "falling through the cracks" and leave those who are satisfied alone.

    I agree, Medicare/Medicaid should be expanded to those who can not afford health care insurance, do not have access to it through thier employers, or are rejected because of pre-existing conditions.

    I also realize that many folks have experienced health care rationing through thier own insurance companies. Why can't we pass laws to change that aspect of the broken system? Why can't we pass tort reform so Dr.'s can practice without fear of a law suit from every patient? Why can't we pass laws that allow the purchase of health insurace across state lines, thus freeing up the market for more competitivness which would bring costs down? Why do we have to trash the ENTIRE system, including the parts that are currently good and working well?

    My grandmother frequently said, "Haste makes waste". Over the years, I've learned that she was right. HR 3200 has been put together hastily, to hastily for my comfort zone. In my opinion, when it comes to people's health, haste is a recipe for disaster.

    Again, I think each area of our current health care system that is simply not working for our society needs to be examined and addressed one at a time. Otherwise, I think we will end up with a MUCH greater mess, than we have now. I think Washington needs to slow down ... health care is not something any of us can afford to get wrong.

  3. Additional comment regarding Anonymous reply:

    Anon. remarked that they did not think Ms. Wagner's situation had any bearing on the current health care reform debate in America.

    I personally do not understand Anon.'s line of thinking. President Obama and many others currently serving in Washington have gone on record in support of a nationalized universal health care program for America. Mr. Obama stated in a 2007 televised interview that he desired this sort of government ran plan but didn't think it would be possible in the immediate future. At the time of the interview his off the cuff estimate was a 10 -15 year transition.

    H.R. 3200 is the open door for the transition to a federally funded universal health care system. One that will put cost savings ahead of personal health care - they already do it with Medicare and Medicaid. Ms. Wagner is also an example of this. I personally do not have any trust in our government with regard to managing health care. Why should I? Washington, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, have had more than 40 years to the perfect the Medicare system. Today it proves to be one of the worst managed programs our federal government oversees. If they can't get Medicare right after 40 years, why would I trust them with my future?

    H.R.3200 is not the big ugly government control system folks like me dread seeing in our nation. But, H.R. 3200 is the opening of the door the bondage a government controlled system will usher in. We need to ask what freedoms are we relinquishing to the government with this bill? We all need to remember that every time we loose the right to make a choice, we've lost a freedom. Freedom is the choice to choose what is right for your and your family's specific situation without interference from a governing authority. I may not like or agree the choices some folks make. However, as long as thier choices do not infringe upon my or my family's life, liberty or pursuit of happiness - I do not have a right to take thier choice away from them. Nor, do they have a right to take my choices away from me.

    Government ran programs take choices away from those who are in bondage to them. I know. I spent one year of my life on welfare. During that year, I had to live where the government told me to live, I was only able to choose the continuing education program the government selected for me, I could only spend a certain amount of money at the grocery store where I could only purchase certain items, I was not allowed to earn extra money or accept gifts without suffering a loss of ALL benefits. Medicaid also told me which medical treatment option I could have. Fortunately, I chose to suffer in pain until I was able to gain full-time employment and afford a less invasive treatment option that carried far less side effects than what I was offered under our government ran Medicaid system.

    I have reason to mis-trust our government. I've personally experienced their bondage and the lack of choice they offer thier subjects - I have no desire to be enslaved to them, in any form, again. I sincerely pray that a situation like Ms. Wagner's never occurs again in our nation - but I'm not holding my breath.

  4. Very well written and thought out post.

    ~Mrs. M

  5. I loved this post, Mrs. B!

    While Medicaid is not "universal health care" per se, it is a system similar in that it is set up to take money from others to pay for another's illness.

    I am not going to say that I think those people should just suffer through their illness because they are poor. I don't think that at all. However, I believe that those people should get assistance from those that WILLINGLY help them, not have the money raped from them.

    I am personally on the "poverty" level and have been for several years. I could utilize medicaid, welfare, etc. But we choose not to. While I am a prideful human being and do not like taking assistance from others, I will never again take from those that didn't choose to give to me from their hearts and would only accept it from those that lovingly wanted to give it to me to begin with.

    Sorry Mrs. B, I'm off my soap box!

  6. Mrs. G,

    I'm so happy to see you had a moment to pop in. Please don't feel like you have to appologize for commenting with regard to this post. I welcome all comments, especially yours. Knowing your family's situation only brings forth an abundance of respect from me. I also know that because of you and your family's convictions, God is able to receive ALL the Glory for the provisions and blessings He bestows upon you guys. And realistically, since we are Christians, God is the only one who should ever receive Glory for our provisions and blessings.

    I love you and I pray your special day is as happy as I am to have you in my life.

  7. your story is false. they state would not pay for ineffective treatment that would marginally extend someones life. It would not "only pay for suicide" it would pay for comfort care, it would not force suicide, it allowed it as an option. sometimes death is the final verdict, it will be for all of us at some point. spending thousands of dollars for one more day in just not possible. Private coverage can't do it, nor can govt. coverage do it. if you are independently wealthy then you can fund it for your self, or someone else, but general policies can not. tragic yes, evil no.

  8. Dear Anonymous,

    I do not appraciate your implication that I'm a liar. Not only did I first read about Ms. Wagner in an AARP article last year and veiw her story on Fox news a couple weeks ago, but I also included a link to ABC News in my post covering this story.

    Yes, when the state of Oregon was questioned by those who could make them look bad they responded that they routinely pay for "comfort care". However, as printed on the first page of the ABC News article, Ms. Wagner received a letter offering her assisted suicide. The state of Oregon tried to "back peddle" in an admission that a lack of sympathy existed in Ms. Wagner's situation and they were working to prevent this tpye of impersonal and cold situation from happening in the future.
    I do not, nor will I ever support, the line of thought that a governing body, insurance company, physycian, relative, etc. should EVER be allowed to decide OR suggest when a person's life should end. The U.S. Constitution guarantees every U.S. Citizen the right to LIFE, Liberty and the PURSUIT of Happiness. Physicans take a hypocratic oath vowing to do everything they humanly can to extend the life of thier patients. Also, as a Chrisitan, I take a firm stance that our Creator is the only authority when it comes to how and when we (humans) will find our demise.

    I sincerely pray that you never expereince a situation even remotely similar to Ms. Wagner's.


  9. Yes amen I sure agree with you dear sister, as a Christian this needs to be told and every chance we have, let us all take a stand, and proclaim the Gospel, God is still on the throne. Good Blog
    stop by and visit me, hugs Barbara

  10. You ARE dishonest!

    The 'treatment' was only meant to have a minuscule chance of extending her life a few months, at the even greater risk of causing adverse side effects.

    She also wouldn't have had either her 1st or 2nd line medical care if not for socialized medicine.

    Lastly, the other mechanism that it reduces costs: preventative medicine.

    Lets not forget to mention that the AMA artificially restricts medical schools and applications. This creates a supply side crunch, along with the egregious patent system, meant to extort money from people.

  11. Dear 3rd Anon Comment,

    You chose to begin your comment by accusing me of dishonesty. I choose to respectfully and tactfully defend my honor.

    1. In this opinion post, I provided a link to an ABC news story supporting what I wrote. Since it seems you disagree with my opinion(s) I question, did you click on the link and read the ABC article in its entirety? I checked this morning & although it's been 3 years since I wrote this post the article link still works.

    2. The primary position of this post is my personal OPINION regarding HR 3200, President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act, and my disagreement with it and why I disagree. I've also expanded upon my position above in response to 2 other anonymous comments. I believe our federal government is absolutely incapable, in every way, of effectively managing ANYTHING. My opinion is based upon the current state of our federal government's terminal fiscal health, history, personal experience, and testimonies of other's experiences.

    3. When did personal opinions become classified as honest, dishonest, right or wrong? Opinions are opinions. Although everyone does not always hold the the same opinions that does not make the opinions honest, dishonest, right or wrong. It simply means they differ based upon different perspectives.

    I disagree with your assessment of me being a dishonest person. Because I am an honest person, I provided an ABC news link regarding Ms. Wagner's heart wrenching situation. Her situation is a prime example of how broken our health care system is. It is also an excellent example of solutions that should NOT be implemented in a effort to fix, or improve health care in our nation. I firmly believe that the individual patient, and ONLY the individual patient (in the situation of a minor or those legally deemed incompetent his parents/legal guardian), should make decisions regarding his/her health care options. It is the physician's obligation, morally and legally, to provide each patient with his/her options. I firmly believe governing bodies and insurance companies should NOT and should NEVER have any rights, or even the right to make suggestions, regarding health care options.

    Thank you for taking time to comment.


  12. I won't be able to write as eloquently or probably as thoroughly as I would like to due to some time restrictions I have at the moment. I would like to say that I was moved by this post and all the comments that agree and disagree. I am in an Ethics class for nursing at the moment and have been asked to write a small essay on the Barbara Wagner case. It is a very sad case that ended well for her. I was surprised that euthanasia was offered as an option. I didn't realize that it had been so widely accepted as a legal option in health management, that it would be offered as an option. Although, I struggle with religious beliefs I approve of it as an act of mercy that I hope our Lord would approve of. I feel her doctors covered all areas and it is not their fault that the state coverage she had would not cover the drugs that may extend her life one more year. I thank God that the drug company stepped up and helped. I know that many health insurance companies would have put her in the same situation. I have high hopes for a National Health Care system. I would like to see equal care for all, although money will still take preference. As someone who has had trouble affording health insurance and has had some outrageous health care costs because of it, I feel this call to action from Obama is a last ditch effort to get this country to take some responsibility for the health of its people, ALL of its people. The indigent can receive healthcare that I cannot. They get this care because I provide it with my contribution to taxes. I believe they deserve it! I believe that I deserve it too. We as Americans deserve to have healthcare. It is going to be a rocky road to get there. I may not see it until my grandchildren are my age, but we will get there. America has so much potential to be a great nation, who cares about the people who make up America, but our greed has gotten in the way. Now, government has had to step in and begin mandating for a more equal healthcare for all. I hope I will see it in my lifetime.

  13. Dear Anon,

    I too have been in your situation of not qualifying for government Medicaid, not being able to afford health insurance and then being faced with huge financial burdens of having to pay full-price for my family's own health care costs. Your desire to see "fair and equal" healthcare for ALL Americans is noble. Unfortunately, I do not personally believe it is a possible reality. I am, however, confident we will someday have government administered healthcare, but we will also have forced euthanasia, forced birth control, forced abortions, and other morally/religiously controversial procedures. To those who find these procedures reprehensible, this is not a fair or equal system. Also, the wealthy and select government representatives will always be exempt, just as they are now, from the tyranny imposed upon the middle class and impoverished.
    There are days when I wish I were still young and optimistic, however, at my age I have seen too many ugly realities.

  14. The misinformation in this 'blog post' are killing me... She had undergone treatment with 2 different drugs over the course of years. Cancer is not in remission until it has no symptoms for 5 years. This was not the case. She had survived with treatment up to that point with the original two drugs. The experimental (at the time) tarceva 'miracle' drug improves mean survival by about 2 months. For her, she lasted 3 weeks once she started it. NSCLC (non small cell lung cancer) is a terminal disease that has a mean survival of less than 5% over 5 years. Was everyone at fault? No. Is everyone blameless? No. A competent doctor would have counseled her on dying (transitioning from this plane of existance/life) NSCLC is a death sentence (so is life, now that I think about it). Poo. We're screwed if we do, screwed if we don't. She wasn't denied the drug. Pay for it and you can have it. I want a car, but I can't have a ferrari because I can't afford it... just cause they exist doesn't mean i'm entitled to have one, does it? Oh, and Ms. Wagner smoked until she was diagnosed with lung cancer (smoking is the #1 risk factor for NSCLC)... When does personal responsibility come into play? "I'll smoke my whole life and when the consequences come, i'll blame my insurance company for not taking care of me." wait, what?!?

  15. Dear Anon Commenter #4,

    Please refer to my above response to anonymous commenter #3. If you are not inclined to do so:

    1. As previously stated, if you have a problem any so called "miss-information" of this blog post, please contact ABC as the details regarding Ms. Wagner's health condition was taken directly from a specific ABC article. NOTE: I included a LINK to said article in my original post.

    2. Just because I do not object to others disagreeing with my OPINIONS, I will not allow them to accuse me of "miss-leading". Again, as stated above (and in the header of my soapbox page) this is an OPINION post. Calling me a liar because you disagree with my opinion is irresponsible and immature.



Thank you for taking time to read my blog and leave a comment. I try my best to respond to each one. God Bless You, Mrs.B