Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sec. Reich, Letting Old People Die is Not a Good Way to Fund Health Care

Recently, prominent liberal health care mouthpiece and former Colorado Governor, Richard Lamm openly discussed rationing as a financial solution to help fund universal health care ("Better Health Care Through Rationing," The Huffington Post), or as he puts it, "“Old people have a duty to die and get out of the way.”

(Wesley Smith has a good post on Richard Lamm, "Obamacare: Richard “Old People Have a Duty to Die and Get Out of the Way” Lamm Wants Rationing")

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and economic adviser to President Obama, also holds this viewpoint. Here he is speaking at UC-Berkeley:

"We're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too we're going to let you die...

I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid---we already have a lot of bargaining leverage---to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. What that means, less innovation and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market which means you are probably not going to live much longer than your parents. Thank you."

This is a foundational policy for liberals to keep their proposed health care system afloat. This is plain stupid to me because how can you determine when it's the end of life for someone? How do you define "old age" when life expectancy continues to climb higher and the differences between each ethnic profile, socio-economic background, and lifestyle habits create such a moving target for each individual? Let's say there is a second generation Okinawan American (Japan) who maintained the same dietary habits as her parents and will live to 100 years or greater. Will she be treated the same at 80 years as a fourth generation Irish American who is 80 but with a life expectancy of 78 years?

Another example is from a recent situation from the UK (HatTip to WSJ's James Taranto):

A grandfather who beat cancer was wrongly told the disease had returned and left to die at a hospice which pioneered a controversial "death pathway."

Doctors said there was nothing more they could do for 76-year-old Jack Jones, and his family claim he was denied food, water and medication except painkillers.

He died within two weeks. But tests after his death found that his cancer had not come back and he was in fact suffering from pneumonia brought on by a chest infection.

To his family's horror, they were told he could have recovered if he'd been given the correct treatment.

Nice to see the effectiveness of similar policies in action. Seriously, this is just a stupid idea.

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