Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stop Scaring Grandma

If you look at my post on the topic of health care, you will clearly see that I am opposed to the current proposals for health care reform. I think what is before us is a step in the wrong direction and will make health care worse in America, not better. I favor reform in the direction of a more market oriented health care system, not more government control.

While I am clearly in the camp of those who want to defeat Obamacare, I nevertheless think that the truth matters and we should not win at any cost. It is time to can the talk of euthanasia and soylent green.

The current health care proposals before us will not ship grandma off to die. The current version of "America's Affordable Health Choices Act," the House version of Obamacare, is a provision that would authorize Medicare to pay for a consultation between a patient and the patient's doctor or nurse, to discuss how much or little medical care is desired in the event of incapacitation. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is not mandatory; it simply authorizes Medicare to pay for the consultation between the patient and the patient’s health care provider. A bureaucrat will not be coming in telling old people to hurry up and die.

Another bill in Congress called the Advance Planning and Compassionate Care Act says that patients will be informed about the benefits of hospice and palliative care. What is wrong with that? From these two bills has come the talk of euthanasia.

Another source of concern fueling the euthanasia scare is that health care reform will lead to rationing of services and that more value will be given to saving a young life than someone near the end of their life. The administration strongly denies any rationing will follow health care reform. Despite the administrations denial, there will have to be rationing. There is already rationing.

In a market economy wants or restrained by price; in a command economy wants are restrained by public policy funding decisions or administrative fiat. Very few people ever get all they want at the price they want to pay. In our current mixed health care system, insurance companies routinely “ration” care. Some procedures are not covered and there are limits on how much your insurance will pay for other procedures or illnesses. We all accept that.

If you are an eligible veteran and there is not a veteran’s hospital in your community is that not a form of rationing? If you call not spending the full amount that everyone thinks we should spend on a service “rationing,” we ration all public services from roadway construction to education to police protection.

Face it. The health care trajectory we are on is simply not sustainable. Medicare is going broke and a quarter of all spending by Medicare, more than $100 billion, takes place during a patent's final year of life. I am on the leading edge of the baby boomer generation and there are a lot of people behind me. In a few years, old people will be the largest demographic. Medicare is not really a self-sustaining insurance policy; it has become an entitlement. New medical advances make it possible to extend the dieing process for a longer and longer period of time. The truth is it will simply not be possible to continue to increase the spending on medicare necessary to meet the demand for health care consumption. That is rationing.

In a desire to defeat Obamacare, we should not scare the elderly with talk of euthanasia. We should not do it because it is wrong, but also because it will poison the admoshpere so that real reform of our sick health care system will not be possible.

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1 comment:

  1. Hehe ... I've not followed the news lately now that I'm living overseas. Good article ... America needs to rise above scare tactics if it really wants to solve its problems. I know that both sides do it, but someone needs to step up to the plate and focus on issues not rhetoric. I hope the final solution is a more market oriented one as well.

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