Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Death Panels. Killing Off The Elderly. Age Limit On Kidney Transplants.

New York Times Opinion Writer: We Need Death Panels

by Wesley J. Smith | Washington, DC | | 9/19/12

The New York Times uses its op/ed page as a supplement to its editorial page–that is, most of the articles published reflect the views of the editors. Letters to the Editor, too.
The NYT has called for health care rationing several times in the past and published articles by others supporting it. It did again on Saturday with an article by one of its opinion writers, a former Obama Treasury Department adviser, named Steve Rattner. From, “Beyond Obamacare:”
WE need death panels.
That’s what the technocratic class believes. We need to do away with the expensive and nonproductive rather than waste money caring for them. Back to Rattner:
Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently — rationing, by its proper name — the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.
Yes, all of us who warned that this was the agenda were such alarmists and conspiracy theorists, weren’t we? But we are right.

Rattner compares the former Ryan Medicare plan and Obama’s, and finds them both cost control wanting. The answer–death panels! And it will be the IPAB based on NICE-style quality of life–again, just like I have been warning!
No one wants to lose an aging parent. And with price out of the equation, it’s natural for patients and their families to try every treatment, regardless of expense or efficacy. But that imposes an enormous societal cost that few other nations have been willing to bear. Many countries whose health care systems are regularly extolled — including Canada, Australia and New Zealand — have systems for rationing care.
Take Britain, which provides universal coverage with spending at proportionately almost half of American levels. Its National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence uses a complex quality-adjusted life year system to put an explicit value (up to about $48,000 per year) on a treatment’s ability to extend life. At the least, the Independent Payment Advisory Board should be allowed to offer changes in services and costs. We may shrink from such stomach-wrenching choices, but they are inescapable.
Never doubt me! Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. He writes at his blog, Secondhand Smoke.
"Although there is no true age limit for transplantation, transplant recipients over the age of 60 cannot have any significant medical disease other than their kidney disease. Patients in older age groups may require more pre-transplant medical screening than younger patients. "

"Although there is no age limit, few units will transplant patients over 70 years - unless very fit.If a family member, partner or friend wants to donate a kidney, they will need to be evaluated for general health too."

MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2012

Organ Transplants and Death Panels

[Welcome USA Today readers!]

Did taxpayers (through Medicare) pay for Dick Cheney's heart transplant? How much does a heart transplant cost? Should anyone, other than the patient and doctor, decide who is entitled to an organ transplant?

Heart transplants cost anywhere from $600,000 to $1,000,000. Most heart transplant patients are between the ages of 50 and 64 and the average wait time is 9 months.

Dick Cheney was 71 and was on the transplant list for 20 months.

Did Medicare pay for Cheney's transplant?

We have no idea. Using the Medicare organ transplant criteria it is unlikely, but not impossible, that Mr. Cheney paid out of pocket for some, if not all, of the cost of his surgery.

Obamacrap requires the establishment of an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), termed "death panels" by those who oppose too much government intrusion in our lives. Once established, this 15 member panel of individuals appointed by the President and then subject to Senate confirmation.

This raises a question. Should 15 individuals, appointed by political process, have this much authority over the level of treatment that is covered by Medicare? The panel (as currently conceived) will make general recommendations, not preside over individual cases and determine who lives and who dies.

As one Bioethicist has noted, "The timing of Cheney’s transplant is ethically ironic given that the battle over extending health insurance to all Americans reaches the Supreme Court this week.
If the President’s health reform bill is deemed unconstitutional, those who are wealthy or who can easily raise money will continue to have greater access to heart, liver and other forms of transplantation than the uninsured and underinsured."
If/when the IPAB becomes reality does anything really change with regard to access to expensive medical care?
We don't know for sure, but the role of the IPAB is to limit coverage and payment for expensive medical treatment. Chances are good that when it comes to medical care, the gap between rich and poor will widen even further.
Even in countries where the government controls payment for medical care the standard of care for the wealthy is not limited by government rules. This begs the question, will Obamacare level the playing field with regard to medical care or create an even bigger chasm between rich and poor?
"Wow!  So, what we here at DRScoundrels have been warning would come to pass - that medical care would devolve to be only for those who had the most to 'offer' our newly socialized society - a baby with birth defects detected in the womb would be labeled an "unviable bio mass", old people deemed too used up to be of use; and so on, has indeed become a reality?  This is incredibly scary.   What gives a panel of disinterested parties the right to decide how much value a person's life has?  Remember Obama, telling the lady that her 95 year old mother should probably take a pill instead of having open heart surgery?  Not so different from reality now, is it? "

The Elite Are Attempting To Convince Us That Killing Off Our Sick Grandparents Is Cool And Trendy

What should be done with elderly Americans when they become very seriously ill? Should we try to save their lives or should we just let them die? Unfortunately, there is a growing consensus among the "intellectual elite" that most elderly people are not going to have a high enough "quality of life" to justify the expense of costly life saving procedures. This philosophy is now being promoted very heavily through mainstream news outlets, in our television shows and in big Hollywood movies. The elite are attempting to convince us that killing off our sick grandparents is cool and trendy. We are being told that "pulling the plug" on grandma and grandpa is compassionate (because it will end their suffering), that it is good for the environment and that it is even good for the economy. We are being told that denying life saving treatments to old people will dramatically reduce health care costs and make the system better for all of us. We are being told that it is not "efficient" for health insurance companies to shell out $100,000 for an operation that may extend the life of an elderly person by 6 months. But the truth is that all of this is part of a larger agenda that the elite are attempting to advance. As I have written about previously, the elite love death, and they truly believe that reducing the population is good for society and good for the planet. Sadly, population control propaganda has reached a fever pitch in recent months.
Time Magazine has just come out with a very shocking cover story entitled "How To Die". The article goes on and on about how wonderful and compassionate it is to remove life saving treatment from sick relatives.
A recent article by Mike Adams summarized the message of this disgusting article....
Inside, the magazine promotes a cost-saving death agenda that encourages readers to literally "pull the feeding tubes" from their dying elderly parents, causing them to dehydrate and die. This is explained as a new cost-saving measure that drastically reduces return hospital visits by the elderly… yeah, because dead people don't return to the hospital, of course.
Many of you also probably remember the Newsweek cover story from a couple years ago that was entitled "The Case for Killing Granny".
Underneath that shocking title was the following phrase: "Curbing excessive end-of-life care is good for America."
According to the author of that article, spending less money on the elderly is the key to successful health care reform....
The idea that we might ration health care to seniors (or anyone else) is political anathema. Politicians do not dare breathe the R word, lest they be accused-however wrongly-of trying to pull the plug on Grandma. But the need to spend less money on the elderly at the end of life is the elephant in the room in the health-reform debate. Everyone sees it but no one wants to talk about it. At a more basic level, Americans are afraid not just of dying, but of talking and thinking about death. Until Americans learn to contemplate death as more than a scientific challenge to be overcome, our health-care system will remain unfixable.
Sadly, articles like that one are becoming quite frequent in mainstream media sources.
Just a few days ago, a Bloomberg article entitled "How 'Death Panels' Can Prolong Life" declared that we must "deny treatment to people who want it" in order to hold down costs....
In short, all the Republican talk during the health-care- reform debate about "death panels" was melodramatic and unfair, but not ridiculous. One way or another, holding down health-care costs will require policies that deny treatment to people who want it. And want it because it will extend their lives.
This goes on already, all the time. Health insurance companies have been known to deny payment for treatments deemed unnecessary. Age limits for organ transplants are another example. All policies that involve denying care because of "quality of life" considerations are, in effect, "death panels." But no society can afford to give every citizen every possible therapy. Medicare is going broke trying.
So who are we supposed to deny treatment to?
The elderly of course.
According to that Bloomberg article, we are supposed to kill off our sick grandparents because the "quality of life" they would be expected to have if they recover would not be enough to warrant spending so much to save them....

A $200,000 operation can add a year or two to the life of an octogenarian, or it can save decades of life for younger people. In a country like the U.S., with an average life expectancy of 78.5, it takes 10 septuagenarians who get an extra five years from the health-care system to balance a single 30- year-old who gets 50 extra years. Or save the life of a newborn, who then enjoys a normal life span and dies at 78.5, and you have the same impact on national life expectancy as 16 operations on septuagenarians. The average national life expectancy can increase even as the cost goes down.
This is the kind of thinking that starts happening in a society that dramatically devalues life.
If human life has little value, then it is easy to start justifying things that would have once been unthinkable.
For example, one surgeon is now suggesting that we should start harvesting organs from patients before they die....
Dr. Paul Morrissey, an associate professor of surgery at Brown University's Alpert Medical School, wrote in The American Journal of Bioethics that the protocol known as donation after cardiac death -- meaning death as a result of irreversible damage to the cardiovascular system -- has increased the number of organs available for transplant, but has a number of limitations, including the need to wait until the heart stops.
Because of the waiting time, Morrissey said that about one-third of potential donors end up not being able to donate, and many organs turn out to not be viable as a result.
Instead, he argues in favor of procuring kidneys from patients with severe irreversible brain injury whose families consent to kidney removal before their cardiac and respiratory systems stop functioning.
Do you want your organs harvested before you are dead?

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