Commentary Magazine


Death — Panels and Otherwise

Doctor and Senator Tom Coburn goes chapter and verse through ObamaCare, making the case that even without a public option, the bill is replete with rationing provisions that will squeeze care to save costs. He explains:

For instance, the Reid bill (in sections 3403 and 2021) explicitly empowers Medicare to deny treatment based on cost. An Independent Medicare Advisory Board created by the bill—composed of permanent, unelected and, therefore, unaccountable members—will greatly expand the rationing practices that already occur in the program. Medicare, for example, has limited cancer patients’ access to Epogen, a costly but vital drug that stimulates red blood cell production. It has limited the use of virtual, and safer, colonoscopies due to cost concerns. And Medicare refuses medical claims at twice the rate of the largest private insurers.

There are also the comparative-effectiveness research programs that have been employed “as rationing commissions in other countries such as the U.K., where 15,000 cancer patients die prematurely every year.” There are also 14 mentions of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, one example of which was the now infamous mammogram guideline recommendation. And while Medicare “buy-in” is dead, the Reid bill still plans to increase Medicaid coverage to those with incomes at 133 percent of the poverty level, meaning more rationing. (“Washington bureaucrats have created a system that underpays doctors, 40% of doctors already restrict access to Medicaid patients, and therefore ration care.”)

Americans may not have figured out all the details yet. (And who can blame them, since Reid and his bill-to-be remain behind closed doors.) But they’ve figured out that their care will not be what it once was if ObamaCare passes. Democrats keep insisting that the public will love it once it’s in place. But will they? It’s hard to see how denying care is going to be popular. Funny, it used to be liberals who told us that the measure of a just society was how we treated the sick and old. Now Democrats are straining to pass a bill with creative mechanisms for denying care. You’d think liberals would be appalled.