There are a number of very concerning parts of the health care bill and of the people President Obama has put into positions of power. Apparently, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s brother, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, has written several articles for The Lancet on how to determine who should get health care, including calculations of saving the most people, saving the most life-years, and social worth. Thus, an infant is not worth as much as a teenager, because the infant has not received as much of an investment in time, schooling, etc.
Even better, he gave us a graph to calculate the value of a person.
As Glenn Beck pointed out tonight on his show, we understand that when it comes to truly restricted items, like kidneys for transplant. Of course, you’d understand why the 75-year-old is near the bottom of the list and the 25-year-old is much closer to the top: the odds of the 75-year-old living much longer is pretty low, whereas the 25-year-old has most of their life ahead of them.
But do you want similar calculus applied to heart medication? Bypass surgery? Allergy medications? All of those cost money, too, so if the money gets short (and it will), what then? When the doctors quit medicine or leave the country like they have in other countries with nationalized medicine, what then?
Also, it might make AARP think twice about its support of the health care bill if someone over there noticed that the likelihood of receiving a health care “intervention” drops off dramatically at 55. Apparently, my parents and in-laws, although not even retirement age, are worth only slightly more than that nearly *worthless* 3-month-old infant.
What of the unborn? The graph doesn’t go quite to zero at age zero, but if the infant is hardly worth anything, the unborn child will be calculated to be worth even less. Will prenatal and delivery coverage be denied for children diagnosed in utero with disabilities or disease? “Sure, you don’t have to abort your baby with Downs… but we won’t pay for the delivery, or well-baby checkups, or vaccinations, or anything else, so good luck with that…”
Now, a number of Dr. Emanuel’s articles are apparently well-balanced discussions of end-of-life issues. One article, “Death and Dignity: Dogma Disputed” (Lancet, 21Dec2002), actually discussed a study that found that, contrary to popular thought on the subject, 93% of the patients in the study did not feel a distinct loss of dignity in their end-of-life care. In other words, the oft-cited reasoning that only euthenasia provides “death with dignity” fails to meet the reality test. Emanuel points out, “the available data show that depression rather than pain is associated with a desire for euthenasia or physician assisted suicide.”
Still, that graph bugs me.
The CBO keeps pointing out that the health care plan currently being debated is financially untenable. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are all likely to be out of money within years; we pay the taxes, but my husband and I seriously don’t expect to ever see a penny of it.
The money will run out, fairly quickly. Then all medical care will fall under the same rationing we see in organ transplants: the government won’t have the money, so, hopefully, those 55-year-olds will hurry up and die as their health care is restricted, before they retire and become *socially useless*.
Canada has town lotteries to determine who’s going to get a primary care physician that month.
A friend of ours came down with a particularly fast-moving type of cancer. Looking on the bright side as she came out of surgery (within a week or so of discovering she had cancer), she commented that if she’d still been in Great Britain, she would have been dead before she even got the diagnostic test that discovered the cancer.
If we extend health care coverage to everybody, including people who broke the law to enter this country, but we simultaneously make everyone miserable and scared of getting really sick (because the medical care may or may not be there for them), have we really made any progress?
Furthermore, who is going to make these decisions? What all-powerful board will decide who lives and who gets some pain-killers and a condolence letter?
Do you trust that the government’s motives will always be pure and good?