John Edwards, Nataline, and CIGNA: Matthew Holt is Spot-On

When it comes to health policy, I don’t agree with Matthew Holt very often. But when it comes to John Edwards’ exploitation of Nataline Sarkisyan, it is gratifying that someone from the left is calling him out on it.

As I’ve reiterated over and over and over again, any nationally-run, universal health care system would have to say no to some lifesaving procedures, just like CIGNA did.

John Edwards conveniently leaves this point out in his speeches. It’s deceptive, and his exploitation of the Sarkisyan family deplorable (emphasis mine):

John Edwards decided his campaign will be the voice of the girl’s parents, a fine idea for a politician seeking office. Lousy policy.

One good reason to have a single payer system is to rationally decide what is paid for and what isn’t. Meaning that if Edwards’ ideas about health care are adopted and become law there may well be more people being denied last-chance, possibly life-saving operations than there are now.

All health systems and all societies everywhere somehow ration what’s available to patients . . .

. . . To some extent, this state of affairs is the result of the work that trial lawyers – like Edwards – have done on behalf of grieving families like the Sarkisyans. It’s been an effective cudgel but not particularly good medicine . . .

. . . So why did Edwards bring up this debatable case? I guess it’s just that he felt that he’d get a quick political score based on a dramatic case that fits into his anti-insurer mantra. But it doesn’t obviate the main issue which is that at some point it’s humane for both the patient and the society for someone to say, “no.”