Thursday, August 6, 2009

Too expensive to live?

Responding to an article at Salon, James Kushiner describes what bothers me the most about the proposals for nationalized health care.
...[M]edical costs are the topic of the hour in the context of health care "reform" debates. .... Some form of hospice seems preferable to me, in many cases, but what worries me most is that the conversation and decisions about all these matters will be made by politicians and bureaucrats who do not have a fundamental respect for the sanctity of human life in the first place. .... It's a small step from one imposed form of hospice to the duty to (voluntarily) die to the loss of the right to live (involuntary euthanasia). We are on very treacherous and slippery terrain here, and I'd prefer "bioethicists" of a truly Christian cast of mind, not eugenic bean counters or those who value only certain levels of quality of life or organ farmers looking for replacement parts for elite members of the exceptional ruling class. Who wants to be weighed in the calculus in the final days and be given a lethal injection? You may be required to check off an answer to that question someday on Federal HHS Form T70-666-70, Certificate of Termination Verification.
Update: Jim Geraghty at NRO explains why my anxiety is unwarranted:
In order to get myself back into the good graces of the White House Office of Disinformation, I'm going to take some time to clear up some of the misperceptions about the "end-of-life counseling" provisions in the various Democratic health-care bills.

"End of life counseling" isn't mandated under the Democrats' legislation. As the bill is currently written, at age 65, you're simply invited to participate in a discussion with a doctor about when the government will stop paying for your health care. The federal government has even generously decided to underwrite the costs of this meeting between you and the doctor about when the government will stop paying for your health care.

The decision of when you stop draining valuable and limited government resources and accept your demise is an intensely personal decision, between you, your doctor, and the yet-to-be-appointed members of the medical review board. And of course, it is absolutely unimaginable that this process could somehow lead to an incentive to limiting how much the government will spend on your health care as you become older and older. The federal government's newfound emphasis on eliminating "unnecessary and wasteful" expenditures in health care will find some other procedures to eliminate, like all those blue pills when the red pills are just as good and cost half as much.

Don't let these crowds of nervous seniors confuse you; they're probably confused themselves. Government programs never have unintended consequences, and federal programs never expand and grow beyond their original purpose and mandate. As you look at your federal government, you can rest assured that they have absolutely no problem spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical procedures to keep you alive, even if the actuarial tables suggest you'll be dead pretty soon anyway. ....
Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments: Too Much Spent Dying?, Getting to the Bottom of 'End of Life Counseling' Proposals - Jim Geraghty - The Campaign Spot on National Review Online

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