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“The heartlessness … is chilling”

Posted by Richard on August 13, 2009

Last week, the White House asked people to report anyone who said something "fishy" about their health care plan (meaning something that contradicts the official White House talking points). I turned in Barney Frank. Now, I'm turning in another dyed-in-the-wool liberal.

Lee Siegel wants "universal health care," paid for by higher taxes on "the rich." He speaks contemptuously of Betsy McCaughey (whose excellent related column about two Obama health care advisers, Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel and David Blumenthal, is a must read). But Siegel is appalled by the prospect of government bean counters denying care to the old and "nudging" them to consider getting the hell out of the way (emphasis added):

For those of us who believe that the absence of universal health care is America’s burning shame, the spectacle of opposition to Obama’s health-care plan is Alice-in-Wonderland bewildering and also enraging—but on one point the plan’s critics are absolutely correct. One of the key ideas under consideration—which can be read as expressing sympathy for limitations on end-of-life care—is morally revolting. And it’s helping to kill the plan itself.

Make no mistake about it. Determining which treatments are “cost effective” at the end of a person’s life and which are not is one of Obama’s priorities. It’s one of the principal ways he counts on saving money and making universal healthcare affordable.

Obama told Diane Sawyer in June that government should “study and figure out what works and what doesn’t. And let’s encourage doctors and patients to get what works. Let’s discourage what doesn’t.”

Sawyer then asked him: “Will it just be encouragement? Or will there be a board making Solomonic decisions?”

Obama replied, “What I’ve suggested is—is that we have a—a commission that helps—made up of doctors, made up of experts, that helps set best—best practices.”

When Sawyer pressed him to say whether those practices would be enforced by law, he evaded the question.

This reeks of the Big Brother nightmare of oppressive government that the shrewd propagandists on the right are always blathering on about. Except that this time, they could not be more right.

In the House bill, it's not just encouragement. At least regarding Medicare/Medicaid (and, I think, the "public option") HHS is directed to reduce payments for "excess" hospitalizations and "misvalued" treatments and is given wide latitude to implement additional cost saving regulations. Undoubtedly, the commission's recommendations will end up determining what gets paid for and what doesn't. But don't take my word for it, read the bill (PDF, 1018 pages). Start at p. 223 and continue for about 150 pages (if you can stand it), and then jump to p. 501. Or take a look at John David Lewis's excerpts and analyses regarding nine important questions, including the issue of health care rationing.

Siegel thinks Obama got such ideas at the University of Chicago Law School: 

By far, the most influential figure in that world is Judge Richard Posner, who teaches law at Chicago and publishes streams of pompous, robotically written books that are much praised and little read.

Judge Posner is both an enthusiastic advocate of euthanasia and an energetic eugenicist. He once wrote of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ ideas about eugenics—Holmes believed that a just society “prevents continuance of the unfit”—that “we may yet find [Holmes’] enthusiasms prescient rather than depraved.”

Cass Sunstein, who is Obama’s nominee for regulatory czar, is a disciple of Posner and believes in what Time magazine describes as “the statistical practice of taking into account years of life expectancy when evaluating a regulation.” In other words, Sunstein believes that the lives of younger people have a greater value than those of the elderly. This, obviously, would have a radical bearing on end-of-life considerations.

Read the whole thing. Then, by all means, read Betsy McCaughey's column about two more very disturbing people who have helped shape Obama's vision of how our health care system should be run.

They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. The kind of people Barack Obama has chosen as friends, mentors, and advisers speaks volumes.

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2 Responses to ““The heartlessness … is chilling””

  1. David Bryant said

    What the socialists never seem to understand is that Hayek was right when he addressed an entire book to them.

    End of life decisions are gut-wrenching for all concerned. Medical science can only do so much, and financial concerns will always be a part of a patient’s (or his family’s) decision to refuse further medical assistance. But when the power to make that decision is taken out of the dying man’s hands and put into the hands of faceless bureaucrats, we have already taken a big step down the “Road to Serfdom”. dcb

  2. rgcombs said

    Precisely, David. Thanks for that!

    BTW, Mike Rosen’s new column, No “right” to health care, is currently the most recommended item at Check it out.

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