Bob Pensack: 2 boys wept


Editor's note: Steamboat Springs resident Dr. Robert Pensack, MD, is the co-author of the 1994 book "Raising Lazarus," which chronicled Pensack's struggle for survival against desperate illness. Pensack wrote the following poem about health care reform.

Two boys wept

As father told them

Their mother had passed

The reality that they could never accept

How could it be

She had just stepped away

She would be right back

A devastating blow to their psyche

She was thirty-one



The boys were seven and five

The year was 1955.

The boys were twelve and nine in the year fifty-nine

With big smiles on their faces

The basketball swishes through the net

But the sadness stayed there

They would never forget

The older boy plays hard

He head fakes right

He drives left

He adroitly soars upward

And releases the ball

He feels a pause

Deep within his chest

He can't breathe

For heavens sake

Just what is the cause

A heart disease

Given to them

By the almighty


Two adolescent boys

An inherited heart disease that was rare

What to do

It just wasn't fair

Rare enough for

Government-paid doctors

To study their odd hearts

And search for some answers

The National Institutes of Health

The best and the brightest are

The doctors there

The year was 1964

No need for private health insurance

It is government-run medicine and research that's there

For those two broken hearts

In need of repair

Their hearts were cut open

To keep them alive

The year was 1975

Their broken hearts

Were on the mend

The health care there

I can truly recommend

Government-paid doctors

Trained at Harvard and the like

It's outrageous you see

Those unpatriotic rotten doctor commie rats

I certainly would never let them treat me

A national embarrassment

Wouldn't you say

To have government medicine

Save the day

Those boys fight to stay alive

With their grief and flawed DNA

To not become invalids

In their struggle to survive

The surgeries

The procedures

The cardiac arrests

The sweet smell of life

Now those man childs are men

And they need new hearts

To live again

The year was 1982

They both lacked health insurance

Oh what were they to do

No No No

No insurance for them

Our goal

To make profits

Again and again


We hope you never wake up

In our system of health care it's

PROFIT that rules

It has never been about your health

You fools

In America

Health insurance

Is only for the healthy

We have always had our death panels

We have always rationed health care

We boldly declare

To insure our profits

That's how we care


What about the boys

Please sell them health insurance

Don't you value their despair

We have no choice

Profits cause slyness

Which necessitates our motto

No coverage

For pre-existing illness

We cannot turn our back on our corporate

Piggy banks

The 45 million of the uninsurable

We want nothing to do with those many incurable

By hook and by crook

And tricks of the trade

Those man boys got health insurance

Oh what a day

Placed on a transplant list

Their execution got a stay

We were forced to hit hard

With our letter that day

We regret to inform you

That we are unable to

Offer you coverage any longer

We know they need hearts

But no coverage we say

We can site

Pre-existing disease

To ruin their day

Those man boys will die

Could there be such an option

Those insurance companies have created

An evil concoction

Their lives could be saved

With a government public option

Give them government health care or

Give them death

With the help of Medicare

Those man boys got their new hearts

A government program

They got a fresh start

They live

They love

They father children

But they need their Medicare

Or a public option

To keep their new hearts

I will say it I dare

But you see

We can still continue to say

We regret to inform you

No coverage for pre-existing illness

It will still be our day

Keep the government out of my health care

It is my private affair

But I will never let you

Take away my government-run Medicare

Call Sen. Mark Udall's office (877-768-3255), Sen. Michael Bennet's office (866-455-9866) and Rep. John Salazar's office (202-225-4761) to implore them to do the right moral and ethical thing and support the public option.


trump_suit 7 years, 6 months ago

Aich, when you run for office, please publish this little Hitlerish Eugenics gem.

What a load of horse$#!+.

"One of the reasons our medical insurance premiums have increased so drastically in the past 20-30 years is that the religion called "medicine" has spared no expense to preserve the lives of people who, as in this case, survive to pass along non-beneficial traits to their offspring."

Or this one:

"It's too bad that when these two fellas got the new hearts, they didn't also get vasectomies to save their descendants from going through the same pain and suffering."

I am sure that there are many of our hard core Republican friends that will agree with you and that is what is truly scary about this debate.

Your points about Doctor pay scales however are excellent examples of things that can be corrected. Add to that the expenses incurred by the insurance companies in lobbying expenses, corporate excess and compensation and we might just find some money left over for actual healthcare for those in need.


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

So snowbow being that you are convinced the only option is the Government takeover ,or public option, what if that fails to do what you hope for? What if your costs do not go down? There is no turning back if the Government fails, as it has in all of it's other endeavors, to do what you want it to do. How can you be so selfish about your duel costs when the Seniors have been promised a $500 billion dollar reduction in their Medicare coverage with this plan? Lowering their benefits to maybe reduce your expenses seems pretty self centered to me. Those Seniors don't have the ability to find income to pay for the constant health care they require. How can you make the claim that the Government will bring bliss to this issue by killing off the Health Insurance companies and taxing others to pay for it? The private insurance companies already subsidize the Government run Medicare and the uninsured as it is and you want to eliminate them so who will step up to the plate and pay? You for one and the Seniors for two. Tearing down the whole system without first instituting Tort reform and regulations to force private insurance to cover people individually as apposed to under an employment plan along with interstate competition is a travesty. This policy and the Cap and Tax policy are for one thing only, continuing political power into the future and the global redistribution of wealth. We are all Americans and we all will die one day and along the way many will have health calamities so why can't we work together as a nation? Why should one political party lockout the other while secretly crafting a policy that will effect 1/5th of our economic lives? Why would the President say there is $400 billion in waste and fraud with Medicare and we need a Government takeover of the rest of the Health care system? Who would buy into the idea that after managing such a system, as the failing Medicare system, that that same Government could efficiently run the rest of the Health care system? The Government sets laws and shouldn't run business's and once they are in our personal lives that deeply we will never be able to get them out.


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

Maybe some reality about some of the lies being told by the pro public option crowd like Health insurer profits.

While mentioning eugenics how about Obama's science czar, John Holdren? "President Obama's "science czar," John Holdren, once floated the idea of forced abortions, "compulsory sterilization," and the creation of a "Planetary Regime" As first reported by FrontPage Magazine, Holdren and his co-authors spend a portion of the book discussing possible government programs that could be used to lower birth rates. "

There is the reality we face.


aichempty 7 years, 6 months ago


I have paid medical insurance premiums every month since November of 1985, after leaving the military service. My employers have paid matching or greater amounts every month for all but four years of that time when I paid it all myself.

Conservatively, I have paid at least $70,000 and my employers have paid well over $100,000 for health insurance during that time. My actual medical expenses in the same period of time are a small fraction of the total.

So, where did all that money go? It went to pay other people's medical expenses.

If $5000 a year for NOTHING means nothing to you, then send me a check, made out to cash, for $5000 in care of the Steamboat Pilot. If you don't mind giving a gift worth $5000 to other people every year, this should not be a problem for you. I'll say "thanks" in advance.

People in Steamboat are all about tears and Teddy bears and "support" and all that emotional ritual, but if you stick them with a bill for $5,000 that they must pay to benefit others every year, how many are going to line up to pay it?

It should be possible to cut that bill in half, or by 2/3, by making everyone join up and pay premiums while reducing compensation for providers and forcing them to become more efficient (like, getting rid of the bimbo at the front desk who handles "billing" in addition to other more "personal" tasks for the doc) and putting them in jail for fraud.

Spreading the cost around to everyone in the country is a great idea. Premiums should be collected as part of social security payroll deductions, and employers who pay people "off the books" should be prosecuted and sent to jail for 10 years, for a starter.

We've got to kill the underground cash economy as well as stop medical billing fraud if we want to have an affordable public option.

Medical care for free is the goal of a lot of people. Not going to happen. Next best is that everyone who gets care pays premiums, and when children go on the public plan, a parent should be required to pay a premium for each child. We've got to stop rewarding people who count on the taxpayers to pay their bills.

And last? Physicians who support a publicly funded plan should be willing to work for around $127,000 per year, which is the max pay for a senior (GS-15) civil servant. Would you agree with this one, Doc? Would you agree to work for a GOOD salary, instead of to get rich, in return for us funding heart transplants for every kid born with a defect?


aichempty 7 years, 6 months ago

Oh, and by the way, I don't support any form of "for profit" medical insurance program. The overhead involved with creating salaries for managers and profits for stockholders and all that crap is a needless expense paid for by medical insurance premiums.

Collect money, pay claims, prevent fraud. That's the only thing they need to do.


Chuck McConnell 7 years, 6 months ago

Dr. P's story is not a happy one but his animosity toward the free market system is misdirected.

Every free market capitalist I know would quickly obviate the stupid "pre-existing conditions" clause in all health insurance contracts. Similarly, there would be no dropping people just because they have made claims or change jobs. Those improvements in the system can be made with nearly total agreement between the left and right.

The billions of dollars wasted on bogus law suits against doctors and hospitals contribute significantly to the high cost of health care. obama and his left cohort in the Dem party who accept hundreds of millions from the tort lawyer bar refust to touch this issue.

The left also refuses to open up state-to-state competition which would reduce costs. Ask yourself why -- all the right wingers I know and see in the media want this.

The government you trust so much with your medical care has had generations to fix these issues and has failed to lift a finger.

Your words indicate strongly you hate profits and free-markets. The health care industry profits were 2.2 percent and ranked 36th in sector profitability. The rank incompetence in the Medicare and Medicade systems produces literally billions of waste, fraud and abuse in those systems -- amounts greater than health care industry profits.

The current unfunded liability of the government run Medicare, Medicade, Part D, and social security amounts to $105 TRILLION and none of the left politicians will even talk about this. Do you really think this is a fact to ignore?

The US health care system can be made more inclusive (but not include undoccumented "voters" as o wants) and the costs can be reduced and controlled with the items I have stated and other improvements without getting incompentent government into the mix.

I wonder why people who want the government to give them everything without working don't just move to Cuba or Mexico or some other country where they also hate free-markets and where the government takes care of everything for them. Ask nearly any Cuban where they would rather be and you will find they would rather be here. The flow of people is from those countries to ours, not the other way.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 6 months ago

This liberal guilt trip needs a dose of reality, we can't have the net consumers wagging the dog.


Duke_bets 7 years, 6 months ago

Bob - Wow! You actually got the word 'commie' to print. Fred and seeuski might appreciate that, but most others will not. It's hard to believe those comments made print. Actually, sad to believe that comment made print in a local paper.


Chuck McConnell 7 years, 6 months ago

I cannot believe how little the lefties listen.

In the first place, there are not 45 million uninsurred (even including the undoccumented as was the wish of o and his cohort). Even the nationalization libs now admit it is many less.

Why do you not scream for tort reform? Why do you not scream for reduction of the horrible waste in Medicare and Medicade? I believe the savings from these two steps would go a long way toward insuring millions more Americans. I would use the savings to immediately insure those who cannot afford insurance.

And snowbow, it is surreal that you cannot understand that one huge reason the folks in Mexico, etc. are living in cardboard is that their governments are full of fraud (very similar to our Medicare and Medicade programs) and they have fostered an unsuccessful socialistic society to keep their citizens under their thumb just as you appear to promote.

windle, what on earth makes you think the public option would work when no other socialistic program in America ever has, ie, Amtrack, Medicare, Medicade, Social Security? Look at the socialized medicine programs already attempted and failed in Tennessee and Conn. Why will you folks not recognize the $105 trillion in unfunded liability? I'll bet when you wake up one morning and the US dollar has been devaluated by the current administration even more than the 24 percent it alreay has you will not be happy. Devaluation is more painful than you can imagine.


aichempty 7 years, 6 months ago


There is a big difference between "haven't" and "can't."

Obviously, indigent kids cannot pay premiums.

There are people who live in total disregard of their own safety and health until the point comes where they require expensive care, and then the rest of us get stuck paying for it.

Child support is one of the things you can sit in jail for in this country. Paying insurance premiums for the kids should be part of that.

I'd even go so far as to require individuals to pay premiums or have liens put on their assets, including potential future social security payments. There should be automatic garnishment of wages, confiscation of tax refunds, etc., to force everyone over the age of 18 to pay into the system. If that was done, care would be affordable for everyone, and everyone could be covered.

We should not live in a society where the taxpayers are automatically obligated to provide medical care for people who have the ability to be self-supporting, but are not.

The European socialist countries have much higher income tax rates than we do to cover the costs of their housing and medical programs. They're not getting anything for "free," and their governments are not so tolerant of cheaters, freeloaders and illegal aliens.

So, if there is a presumption that needing medical care qualifies you for it at taxpayer expense, then there should also be a presumption that every adult should be liable for the cost of premiums to insure themselves. Since most "workers" in this country fall into the 15% tax bracket, adding on 10% to cover health care in the mold of the European model should not be a problem.



seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

300 million Americans have health insurance and it is estimated that 11 million Americans can't afford it. There are Medicare programs currently in place for these 11 million and it is law that no one is denied medical care regardless of the ability to pay so why would we want to give 1/5th of our economy to Government Bureaucrats? And when will you lefty's stop the lying about Republicans just want sick people to die fast? Those of you on the left desiring this dismantling of the free market system won't like it when the pendulum swings back the other way and the Republicans are calling the shots and using the huge political clout that comes from this massive entitlement program to their political benefit. I will be here to remind you then that I was a voice against it. We don't want either party to have that much power over the American people,period.


Barb Tuchlinsky 7 years, 6 months ago

Of course there will be a cost to providing health care for everyone. No one thinks that it will be free. If there were a public option available, it will assure that everyone is covered, and then the people choosing private insurance will not have to foot the bill for those that get their heath care from Emergency Rooms. Tort reform will reduce by only a small percentage the total health care expenditures in this country. Health insurance companies are only beholden to their investers, not the people they insure. Even with a public option there will be pleny of people that will prefer their own private insurance to keep the insurance companies in business.


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

La La land. Everyone is NOT covered and health care is NOT free. But keep on towin the party line if it feels good.


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

Look at Texas, look at Tennessee,look at Massachusetts, look at Medifraud, look at the USPS, look at cash for clunkers costing $24,000 per car sold, look at the DMV, look at Amtrak, look at the deficit, look at the national debt, look at..............


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

The health care bill recently unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi is over 1,900 pages for a reason. It is much easier to dispense goodies to favored interest groups if they are surrounded by a lot of legislative legalese. For example, check out this juicy morsel to the trial lawyers (page 1431-1433 of the bill):

Section 2531, entitled "Medical Liability Alternatives," establishes an incentive program for states to adopt and implement alternatives to medical liability litigation. [But]:: a state is not eligible for the incentive payments if that state puts a law on the books that limits attorneys' fees or imposes caps on damages.

So, you can't try to seek alternatives to lawsuits if you've actually done something to implement alternatives to lawsuits. Brilliant! The trial lawyers must be very happy today!

While there is debate over the details, it is clear that medical malpractive lawsuits have some impact on driving health care costs higher. There are likely a number of procedures that are done simply as a defense against future possible litigation. Recall this from the Washington Post:

"Lawmakers could save as much as $54 billion over the next decade by imposing an array of new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, congressional budget analysts said today - a substantial sum that could help cover the cost of President Obama's overhaul of the nation's health system. New research shows that legal reforms would not only lower malpractice insurance premiums for medical providers, but would also spur providers to save money by ordering fewer tests and procedures aimed primarily at defending their decisions in court, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, wrote in a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)."

Fred Duckels 7 years, 6 months ago

The tort problem certainly brings the integrity of the lefties into question. Health care would not be that hard to improve if O didn't have all his cronies to satisfy. It is a shame that we are held hostage by politics.


Chuck McConnell 7 years, 5 months ago

We are the poorest country in the world, not the richest. The left keeps saying we should give away health care because all those socialist countries do. Those countries would likely give it up if they could. If we socialize health care we will fall to even poorer status. Our unfunded liability for the programs we now have is $105 trillion -- why make it worse especially if we attacked waste, fraud, abuse and tort reform we could easily cover the uninsurred without bankrupcy?


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