Rationing Life Itself
“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
Of Sarah Palin it may be said: The lady knows how to frame an issue.
And while she has been fairly criticized for hyperbole about the end-of-life counselors in the House bill, she drew such attention to the provision that Democrats chose to dump it rather than debate it
And understandably so. For if Congress enacts universal health care coverage, we are undeniably headed for a medical system of rationed care that must inevitably deny care to some terminally ill and elderly, which will shorten their lives, perhaps by years. Consider:
Democrats call Medicare the model of government-run universal health care. But Medicare is a system whereby 140 million working Americans pay 2.9 percent of all wages and salaries into a fund to pay for health care for 42 million mostly older Americans. And Medicare is already going bust.
If Obamacare is passed, the cost of health care for today’s 47 million uninsured will also land on those 140 million. And if Obama puts 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens on a “path to citizenship,” as he promises, they, too, will have their health care provided by taxpayers.
Here is the crusher. The Census Bureau projects that, by 2050, the U.S. population will explode to 435 million. As most of these folks will be immigrants, their children and grandchildren, the cost of their heath care would also have to be largely born by middle-class and wealthy taxpayers.
Now factor this in.
In 2000, the average American male in a population of 300 million lived to 74; the average female to 80. But in 2050, the average male in a population of 435 million Americans will live to 80 and the average female to 86. And, according to U.N. figures, 21 percent of the U.S. population in 2050, some 91 million Americans, will be over 65, and 7.6 percent, or 33 million Americans, will be over 80 — and consuming health care in ever-increasing measures.
Now if a primary purpose of Obamacare is to “bend the curve” of soaring health care costs, and half of those costs are incurred in the last six months of life, and the number of seniors will grow by scores of millions, how do you cut costs without rationing care? And how do you ration care without denying millions of elderly and aged the prescriptions, procedures and operations they need to stay alive?
Consider two beloved Americans: Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
Since he was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, Sen. Kennedy has had excellent care, including surgery and chemotherapy, which have kept him alive and, until very recently, active.
For a decade, President Reagan, because of round-the-clock care, lived with an Alzheimer’s that had robbed him of his memory and left him unable to recognize his own family and close friends.
In the future, will a man of Kennedy’s age, with brain cancer but without the means of offsetting his own health care costs, be kept alive, operated on, given chemotherapy — by a government obsessed with cutting health care costs?
Will a bureaucracy desperate to cut costs keep alive for years the tens of thousands of destitute 80- and 90-year-old patients with Alzheimer’s, as was done with Ronald Reagan?
What if, in 2050, Palin and her husband are not here. And 42-year-old Trig, with Down syndrome, has been in an institution for years, and the cost of his care and that of hundreds of thousands like him with Down syndrome is draining the resources of the health care system?
Will there not be voices softly suggesting a quiet and merciful end?
In Oregon, the law permits doctors to assist in the suicide of terminal patients who wish to end their lives. Let us assume numerous patients have Alzheimer’s and, so, cannot be part of the decision to end their lives. Who then makes the decision to continue or end life? Would it be unfair to call the decision-makers in those cases a death panel?
Almost a third of all unborn babies in America have their lives terminated each year with the consent of their mothers. Fifty million since Roe v. Wade have never seen the light of day. For many, the quality of life now supersedes in value the sanctity of life. That is who we are.
Between 2012 and 2030, 74 million baby boomers will retire, cease to be the major contributors to Medicare and become the major drain on Medicare. How long will an overtaxed labor force in a de-Christianized America be wiling to pay the bill to keep all those aging boomers alive?
Rationed care is coming, and the death panels will not be far behind.
Patrick Buchanan is the author of the new book Churchill, Hitler, and ‘The Unnecessary War,’now available in paperback.
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