Obama to Seniors: Take Two Asprin and Call
Me When You're Dead
Many elderly Americans receiving Medicare are alarmed by the so-called
“advance care planning consultation” mandated by the health care bill,
fearing that they will be visited by government officials who are paid
to pressure them to accept a kind of soft euthanasia in lieu of medical
treatment. Are their fears overblown?
Consider Section 1233 of the bill, HR3200, currently under
consideration by the House of Representatives. This specifies
“advance care planning consultation “shall include … (1)(E) An
explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life
services and supports available”, which “may include the formulation of
… an actionable medical order relating to the treatment of that
individual that …may include indications respecting …(iv) the use of
artificially administered nutrition and hydration.”
Proponents of the new health care plan have fallen over themselves to
explain this away as simply letting elderly Medicare patients learn
about their options. We—along with other pro-life
hold that an intrusive visit of this nature is intended to cut health
care costs—by cutting health care recipients. Why else would the option
of withholding food and water from the elderly even be on the table?
The views of this White House on the need to ration health care at the
end of life to contain costs are well known. In fact, a senior
policy advisor to the President, Ezekiel Emmanuel, this January
published a very revealing “how to” article on the subject in The
Lancet. The article, entitled "Principles for Allocation of Scarce
Medical Interventions," argues for something called the “complete lives
system.” This system “prioritizes younger people who have not yet
lived a complete life and will be unlikely to do so without aid. Many
thinkers have accepted complete lives as the appropriate focus of
distributive justice: “individual human lives, rather than individual
experiences, the units over which any distributive principle should
operate.”1, 75, 76 [italics added] The “complete lives system,” to put
the matter in plain English, assigns a value to human beings based
almost exclusively on their age.
How this “age-based priority” would work in practice is revealed by a
graph that Emmanuel helpfully includes.* The best health care would be
reserved for twenty-somethings. From this peak, the quality and
quantity of care available would gradually taper down until about 55,
at which time it would plummet. By age 65, when Medicare starts,
probability of receiving scarce medical care would have shrunk to a
mere 20%. Note that the chart ends at age 75, after which time
probability of receiving adequate care in the event of a health crisis
is effectively nil. Goodbye, Grandma.
Those concerned about the Culture of Life should also pay attention to
the other end of the chart. It shows that newborns would be ineligible
for all but the most basic care, and that even children would have a
significantly lower probability of receiving care adequate to their
needs than young adults. In short, those most in need of health
the very young and the very old, will have the least probability of
receiving it, while those in least need of care, the twenty-somethings,
will have the most chance of receiving it. Isn’t this backwards?
Why do Ezekiel Emmanuel views matter? Because he is widely
to have Obama’s ear on health matters, in part because his brother,
Rahm Emmanuel, is the White House Chief of Staff. If the health
bill now before Congress passes, and government boards are set up to
determine who receives medical care and who doesn’t, Emmanuel and those
like him will be appointed to serve on such boards. What do you
that they will recommend? (Look at the above chart again.)
In light of all this, it is difficult to see any other purpose for the
end-of-life government visit than to evaluate the affected senior’s
health, and to get them to agree in advance to forgo medical treatment
in the event of a heart attack or a stroke. For many seniors,
will undoubtedly amount to a death sentence.
Make sure that Grandma knows this.
Contact: Steven W. Mosher and
Source: Population Research Institute
Date: August 31, 2009
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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in
Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state
coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of
Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our
society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political
persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic
backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has
been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the
human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that
every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is
dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection
for the disabled and the elderly. Click here to learn more about the IFRL.