Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents
August 12, 2009
To understand where the debate about healthcare rationing came from, it's important to note two things:
1. When a politician like Obama talks about cutting costs of Medicare and making it more efficient, it is not unreasonable for non-political and somewhat perceptive citizens to translate such spin language into "rationing" - especially when the president himself advises governors not to use the term for fear of the political consequences.
2. When you have a administration that appoints someone like Ezekiel Emanuel as an advisor or an establishment that thinks Peter Singer is kind of nifty, it's okay to be worried.
And it would help if the Democrats and the media stopped acting like only crazy people worried about rationing.
Ed Koch, Real Clear Politics - Most alarming for people like me, who at 84 years of age recently needed a quadruple bypass and aortic valve replacement, are the pronouncements of President Obama's appointee, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who, according to a New York Post op ed article by Betsy McCauley, former Lt. Governor of the State of New York, stated, "Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, 'as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others'" He also stated, ";communitarianism' should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those 'who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens...An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.'"
Peter Singer, NY Times Magazine - In the current U.S. debate over health care reform, "rationing" has become a dirty word. Meeting last month with five governors, President Obama urged them to avoid using the term, apparently for fear of evoking the hostile response that sank the Clintons attempt to achieve reform. . .
The case for explicit health care rationing in the United States starts with the difficulty of thinking of any other way in which we can continue to provide adequate health care to people on Medicaid and Medicare, let alone extend coverage to those who do not now have it. Health-insurance premiums have more than doubled in a decade, rising four times faster than wages. . .
Rationing health care means getting value for the billions we are spending by setting limits on which treatments should be paid for from the public purse. . . The debate over health care reform in the United States should start from the premise that some form of health care rationing is both inescapable and desirable. Then we can ask, What is the best way to do it?