There has been much talk the last few days on treatment of the elderly under the Obama healthcare plan. Was the 1973 movie Soylent Green (which I remember well and which freaked me out a tad), about life in the year 2022, prophetic?

Yesterday on Fox an AARP rep defended his organization’s support of Obamacare despite a section mandating an end-of-life conversation with one’s dr. The rep argued Medicare currently doesn’t cover such chats so they’re not happening. Obamacare simply ties up a reimbursement loophole, he said.
Hogwash. Fred Thompson has an op ed in today’s Washington Times taking on the euthanasia component of Obamacare. First, Thompson reiterates the Left’s argument, which the AARP mouthpiece parroted, and of which you should be aware…

The basic position of the bill’s proponents seems to be that these consultations are totally voluntary, that seniors should have the benefit of such end-of-life consultations and that the consultation provision is nothing more than to get doctors reimbursed when a consultation occurs at the patient’s request….

Thompson, a former senator who understands legislative language, explains this is misleading at best and flat out false at worst:

[T]he statute… strictly prescribes in mandatory language what must be included in the consultation as well as what may be included.

Poignantly, continued Thompson:

Seniors are reminded daily by the media that Medicare is going broke, that the country must cut Medicare costs and that the last days of life are by far the most expensive. Now they are being told by the administration – one that has been less than transparent on this bill and a host of other issues – that this bill will cut Medicare costs. They are learning that they are “coincidentally” being asked about end-of-life issues at the government’s behest, perhaps by a stranger who is receiving Medicare reimbursement payments. How long do you think it will take a Medicare patient to figure out which decisions will cost the government money and which will save the government money?

charmaine_wnd.jpgDr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life is also addressing this issue, pointing to specific language in the healthcare bill.
Yoest asks why, if these fears are unfounded, have Democrat-controlled committees repeatedly blocked amendments ensuring there is no rationing of care or even taxpayer funded assisted suicides:

Health care reform must respect life, and not contain provisions that mandate or encourage the withdrawal or curtailment of effective life-sustaining treatment to the terminally ill, the chronically ill, or the permanently disabled….
Section 1233 of the House bill includes vague, federally mandated end-of-life counseling. We are concerned that such counseling might put subtle pressure on patients to make decisions not on sound medical bases but in order to conserve costs. Additionally, the bill does not define terms such as “palliative care” and “end-of-life services,” raising the question of whether a discussion about euthanasia might even be mandated.
Section 2707 of the Senate HELP bill requires that insurers develop and implement a reimbursement structure for making payments to healthcare providers that includes incentives for use of evidence based medicine and best clinical practices. This and other provisions in the bill create the possibility that health care coverage determinations could be based on a patient’s health status, age, and/or quality of life. The resulting structure could become a means of advocating for the least expensive treatment at the expense of respect for life. With cost as a primary driver, the elderly, sick, and disabled may find their options for care severely limited.
Supporters of the healthcare reform bills claim that the legislation will not lead to the withdrawal or curtailment of life-sustaining healthcare, or put pressure on doctors and patients to hasten death. However, amendments offered in the Senate HELP Committee to address these concerns were defeated, including the following:

  1. amendments to prevent the denial of end of life care and prohibit rationing on the basis of patient age, disability, medical dependency, or quality of life;
  2. an amendment to ensure that taxpayers were not forced to fund assisted suicide;
  3. an amendment that would have prevented private health insurers from being prohibited from covering treatment;
  4. an amendment that would have ensured all individuals have access to essential health benefits; and
  5. an amendment that would have required certification that participating plans do not have a pattern of practice or denying coverage based on their age, expected length of life, and disability.

If the supporters of these healthcare reform measures do not intend to withdraw or curtail life-sustaining healthcare for many patients, why are they unwilling to include clarifying language in the bills?…

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