Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obamacare and The End of Life

Buried deep within the 1000+ page healthcare bill is a confusing and vague provision that mandates "advanced care planning consultations" for Medicare recipients. What exactly is intended by these consultations is open to interpretation.

The provision originated from an earlier bill
that was designed to encourage patients to consider hospice and pallative care as they near the end of their lives. But make no mistake, this is also about money. According to one estimate, Medicare spends $100 billion a year for care of patients in their last year of life.

Many critics are rightly concerned that the government will be dictating to patients what care they can and can't receive. The Bioethics Defense Fund is going so far to suggest that this provision is government endorsement of euthanasia.

As a matter of fact, such arguments about the cost of caring for the eldery and infirm as an endorsement for euthanasia has been tried before:

This poster appeared in Nazi Germany during the 1930's. The message reads: "60,000 Reich Marks. This is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too."

The arguments being made for mandatory "advanced care planning consultations" seemed to be eerily similar to the poster above. Critics of the President's health care plan have very legitimate reasons to be worried about what this provision means. Voters should be concerned also.

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