Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Wagner’

In Ted Kennedy’s Honor, Let’s Pass ‘Kopechne Care’

November 22, 2009

I wrote this in August after Ted Kennedy passed away.  I decided not to publish it at the time, out of respect for the recently deceased.  But the Democrat leadership rushing out to invoke Kennedy’s name during and after the vote last night made me realize that the time had come to put it out there:

Nancy Pelosi, eager little demagogue that she is, rushed out as soon as she heard that Ted Kennedy had passed to say:

“Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration.”

Democrat Chairman Howard Dean predicted:

“his [Kennedy's] death absolutely will stiffen the spine of the Democrats to get something this year for this extraordinary giant in Senate history.” Sen. Chris Dodd: “Maybe Teddy’s passing will remind people once again that we are there to get a job done as he would do.”

And Robert Byrd suggested that the subsequent health care reform be named in Ted Kennedy’s honor.

Mind you, in spite of all the blatant politicizing of Ted Kennedy’s death, Democrats bristle with the suggestion that they are doing what they are clearly doing.

The Democratic politicization of Kennedy’s death hearkens to the so-called “Wellstone effect,” as Democrats showed their true colors “honoring” the death of Democrat Senator Paul Wellstone.

And that has some influential conservative voices sounding the alarm and calling foul.

While most prominent Republicans stuck Wednesday and Thursday to sober condolences — and several Republican operatives said it was too early to accuse Democrats of politicizing a sad moment — the conservative media, as well as some operatives, has seized on the whiff of politicization of his passing, recalling the bitter charges and countercharges that followed Sen. Paul Wellstone’s (D-Minn.) memorial service in 2002.

That service, a sometimes boisterous rally that included calls to carry on Wellstone’s political legacy and some catcalls for Republican speakers, turned the memorial into a central campaign issue, and many observers think the still-disputed event helped elect a Republican to fill his seat.

In all the constant eulogizing of the last couple of days, we learn that Ted Kennedy had this “love of humor”:

Meanwhile, listening to ”Reflections on Sen. Kennedy … Lion of the Senate” on the Diane Rehm Show on the drive home last night, I was deeply moved to hear Newsweek’s Ed Klein tell guest host Katty Kay about Kennedy’s love of humor. How the late senator loved to hear and tell Chappaquiddick jokes, and was always eager to know if anyone had heard any new ones. Not that Kennedy lacked remorse, Klein quickly added, seeming to intuit that my jaw and perhaps those of other listeners had just hit the floorboards. I gather it was a self-deprecating manuever on Kennedy’s part, exercised with the famous Kennedy charm, though it sounds like one of those “I guess you had to have been there” things.

“Ha, ha, ha.  Can you tell me any new ones about that time when I was driving around drunk late at night with a young woman not my wife – what was her name?  Mary Joe Something? – and drove into the drink?  My favorite ones are about how she tried to claw her way out of the car after I abandoned her to die.”

Well, I’ve got a Chappaquiddick joke for you: why don’t we name the health care bill Democrats want to name in Ted Kennedy’s honor “Kopechne Care” instead?  I’d suggest “Chappaquiddick Care,” but it’s too hard to spell, and it doesn’t give proper recognition to the victims this bill is going to abandon by means of medical rationing.

If your elderly parents get sick, the Kopechne Care plan would call for them to be loaded into the back seat of a car and driven off a bridge.  As the cost of the Democrats’ plan becomes more and more expensive, you will see expressions of regret that the “clunkers” cars were all destroyed.

Let me tell you something: the theme of being trapped in a government system with no way out as your care is rationed away from you actually ties in quite well with the terrible fate that Mary Joe Kopechne suffered.

Barbara Wagner, battling to survive cancer in Oregon’s government health care system, would certainly agree.  An IBD editorial tells her story in the context of the larger debate around the government single-payer system that abandoned her to die:

“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,” [Sarah] Palin wrote.

“Such a system is downright evil.”

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean’s response was, “She made that up.”  Oregon resident Barbara Wagner might beg to differ — as she begs to stay alive. Last year, the 64-year-old received news that her cancer, which had been in remission, had returned. Her only hope was a life-extending drug that her doctor prescribed for her.

The problem was that the drug cost $4,000 a month. The state-run Oregon Health Plan said no, that it was not cost-effective. Oregon’s equivalent of a “death panel” sent her a letter saying it would cover drugs for a physician-assisted death. Those drugs would cost only $50 or so. Oregon could afford that.

“It was horrible,” Wagner told ABCNews.com. “I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die.

“But we won’t give you the medication to live.”

The $4,000 could be better spent on someone else.

Death panels are already here it seems, just as they have been for some time in Britain and Canada. The concept behind deciding who lives and who dies and how finite resources should be allocated was described by key Obama health care adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

In his paper, “Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions,” he expounds on what he calls “The Complete Lives System” for allocating treatments and resources.

“When the worse-off can benefit only slightly while better-off people could benefit greatly,” he says, “allocating to the better-off is often justifiable.”

These are Dr. Emanuel’s words, not Palin’s. We’re not making this up and neither is she. It is not hard to see this formula for rationing forcing children such as Trig and the elderly such as Barbara Morgan to take a number — a very high number.

So let Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean call it “Kennedy Care.”  I’ll call it “Kopechne Care” – in honor of Ted Kennedy’s first victim.  And point out that if “Kennedy Care” is passed, there will be many, many more victims like Barbara Wagner in the years to come.

It was perfectly fitting for Democrats to honor and mourn the passing of one of their great politicians.  But if they want to turn Kennedy’s passing into a political weapon – and invoke the name of a man who abandoned a helpless woman under his care to die – they had better be aware that it will be a sword that cuts both ways.

Breast Cancer Screening: Government Fires First Volley Of Rationing, Death By Medical Neglect

November 19, 2009

Let me begin by saying that the current versions of ObamaCare don’t have a single death panel.

It’s more like 111 separate death panels.

Some of the names  and acronyms of the dozens and dozens of bureaucracies are undoubtedly different under the new iteration of socialized medicine, but here’s a snapshot of your new health care system if Democrats get their way:

The Senate version is 2,075 pages of fun, I hear.  Nobody understands it.  And nobody is going to end up getting a chance to read it by the time it gets voted on.

If you thought that there was going to be any kind of transparency or accountability – or even honesty – from the Obama administration – you need to stop smoking your crack pipe.

This latest event in the march toward socialized medicine reminds me of the case of Barbara Wagner.  In Oregon, which has “universal coverage” through the state, she was abandoned to die by a system that would not pay for her cancer treatment, but offered to pay for her euthanasia.

Only this time, the government wants to deny treatment on the other side of the cancer diagnosis.

IBD Editorials

Rationing’s First Step

Health Care: A government task force has decided that women need fewer mammograms and later in life. Shouldn’t that be between patient and physician? We have seen the future of health care, and it doesn’t work.

We have warned repeatedly that the net results of health care bills before Congress will be higher demand, fewer doctors, more cost control, all leading to rationing.  New recommendations issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) regarding breast cancer and the necessity for early and frequent mammograms do not convince us otherwise.

Just six months ago, the panel, which works under the Health and Human Services Department as a “best practices” study group, was shouting its concern about a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showing a 1% drop in the number of women regularly undergoing such screening and prevention.

The task force was saying that women older than 40 should get a mammogram every one to two years. It found that frequent screening lowered death rates from breast cancer mostly for women ages 50 to 69. But that was then, and this is now.

“We’re not saying women shouldn’t get screened. Screening does save lives,” Diana Petiti, task force vice chairman, said of the recommendations published Tuesday in Annals of Internal Medicine. “But we are recommending against routine screening.”

Now the panel recommends that women in their 40s stop having routine annual mammograms and that older women should cut back to every two years. The concern allegedly is that too frequent testing can result in increased anxiety, false positives, unneeded follow-up tests and possibly disfiguring biopsies.  Preventing breast cancer and saving lives almost get lost in the new analysis.

“I have a particular concern in this case about who was involved in this task force,” says Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., who was a heart surgeon in private life. “There are no surgeons or oncologists who deal directly with breast cancer or even radiologists. … I’ve seen far too many young women develop late-stage breast cancer because they didn’t have adequate screening.”

Little, if anything, has happened medically in the last six months to cause such a shift. A lot, however, has happened politically as a health care overhaul has limped forward on life support. The Congressional Budget Office has been busy pricing these various bills, a process that includes screening and prevention.

As we have warned, the growing emphasis seems to be on cost containment rather than quality of care. About 39 million women undergo mammograms each year in America, costing the health care system more than $5 billion.

“The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual screening using mammography and clinical breast examination for all women beginning at age 40,” says Otis Brawley, its chief medical officer. “Our experts make this recommendation having reviewed virtually all the same data reviewed by the USPSTF, but also additional data that the USPSTF did not consider.”

Daniel Kopans, a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School, says: “Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and those idiots want to do away with it. It’s crazy — unethical, really.”

This, sadly, appears to be the future of medicine under government-run health care. Aside from taxes on insurers, providers and device manufacturers, we’ll be up to our eyeballs in cost-effectiveness boards that will decide who gets what tests and treatments, when and if. These are only recommendations for now, but they are the shape of things to come.

An IBD/TIPP poll found that 45% of medical doctors would consider retiring if the Congressional health care “reform” passes.  Given the fact that an increasing shortage of doctors is already one of the chief burdens in providing health care, this exodus would amount to a catastrophe that our health system would never recover from.

In Canada, the chronic doctor shortage has been bad enough that patients literally have to sign up for a lottery in order to have a chance to “win” a primary care physician.  But now we are learning that overwhelmed Canadian doctors are using a lottery of their own to dump patients.

Why on earth would anyone want this for America?

The Obama administration is preparing the health delivery system to implement the philosophy of Obama advisers such as Robert Reich, Ezekiel Emanuel, and Cass Sunstein, which can be easily summarized with the quote:

It’s too expensive…so we’re going to let you die.”

Robert Reich’s words in context only make the hateful idea sound even more hateful:

And by the way, we’re going to have to, if you’re very old, we’re not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It’s too expensive…so we’re going to let you die.”

Then there are the words of Obama’s Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein, who wrote:

“I urge that the government should indeed focus on life-years rather than lives. A program that saves young people produces more welfare than one that saves old people.”

And Rahm Emanuel’s brother Ezekiel, whom Obama appointed as his OMB health policy adviser in addition to selecting him to serve on the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research wrote:

“When implemented, the Complete Lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuatedThe Complete Lives system justifies preference to younger people because of priority to the worst-off rather than instrumental value.”

“Attenuated” means, “to make thin; to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, or value.”  Attenuated care would be reduced or lessened care.  Dare I say it, in this context it clearly means, “rationed care.”

And Obama himself told a woman who wanted to keep her aging mother alive:

“At least we can let doctors know — and your mom know — that you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off, uhh, not having the surgery, but, uhh, taking the painkiller.”

YOU take the painkiller rather than have that lifesaving surgery, Barry Hussein.  And why don’t you insist that Michelle and your two daughters take the pill rather than have that lifesaving surgery, too?  Just to be like all the “little people” out there.

But of course that’s not going to happen.  Rather, Democrats have now exempted themselves from 11 separate amendments that would have required them to have the same ObamaCare that they want to force everyone else to have.

You can understand why they would do so, given the promises that the system will be worse than terrible, and due to the fact that even a complete idiot who looks around and sees how horribly the administration has managed the H1N1 vaccine situation can recognize that taking on 1/6th of the economy would be beyond catastrophic.  I mean, heck, if I were a Democrat, I’d be sure to exempt myself from this monstrosity too, lest MY family members fall under the coming steamroller.

This “recommendation” of reducing mammographies isn’t mandatory now, but that’s because the government hasn’t usurped the health care system yet.  You just wait a decade from now, when the government runs everything, and soaring deficits force them to start cutting costs.

‘Crazy Claims About Death Panels’ Sadly Not Crazy At All

October 13, 2009

Are you familiar with the phrase, “the banality of evil”?  The opening paragraph in the Wikipedia article on the subject summarizes the concept quite well:

The banality of evil is a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt and incorporated in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.  It describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

Again and again, we have seen great evils inflicted by governments upon their people.  And we want to find monsters, because that’s who we want to believe would alone be capable of such monstrous evil.  But again and again, we find ordinary people – faceless bureaucrats performing faceless functions – had carried out what we later realize were monstrous deeds with a blithe acceptance of the premises of their government’s policies.

One of the reasons that these policies – later correctly described as “evil” – were allowed to begin, develop, build momentum, and ultimately turn monstrous is because too many people dismissed the possibility that such evil could ever happen.  “Our government would never do such a thing.”

Only it did.  It’s happened too many times before, and it will happen again.

With that introduction, let us look at the ubiquitously mocked term, “death panels.”  Nothing like that could ever actually happen.  Right?

Wrong.  If you go to Europe, it’s happening right now.  And the same sort of quasi-socialist liberals who want to create government health care here were created it there.

Hazel Fenton, an 80-year-old grandmother who was placed under a controversial care plan and left to “starve to death” after doctors identified her as being terminally ill, only recovered after the intervention of her daughter.

By Richard Savill
Published: 10:30PM BST 11 Oct 2009

Terminally ill grandmother 'left to starve' by doctors

Hazel Fenton pictured with her daughter Christine Ball Photo: ANDREW HASSON

Mrs Fenton, from East Sussex, is still alive and “happy” nine months after doctors declared she would only survive for days, withdrew her antibiotics and denied her artificial feeding, her daughter, Christine Ball, said.

“Without my persistence and pressure I know my mother would be dead now,” she added.

Mrs Fenton, a former private school house mother, had been placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) scheme, which was originally developed as a way to care for cancer patients towards the end of their lives.

However, there has been recent criticism that not only cancer patients but others with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under the NHS scheme.

Last month six prominent British doctors and health care professionals wrote to The Daily Telegraph, expressing concern that some patients were being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced in England, medical staff can withdraw fluid and drugs from dying patents and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away. But this approach can also mask signs of improvement, it has been argued.

Miss Ball, who had been looking after her mother before she was admitted to the Conquest hospital, Hastings, East Sussex, on Jan 11, said she had to fight hospital staff for weeks before her mother was taken off the plan and given artificial feeding.

Miss Ball, 42, a carer, from Robertsbridge, East Sussex, said: “My mother was going to be left to starve and dehydrate to death. It really is a subterfuge for legalised euthanasia of the elderly on the NHS. ”

Mrs Fenton was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. Although Mrs Ball acknowledged that her mother was very ill she was “astonished” when a junior doctor told her she was going to be placed on the plan to “make her more comfortable” in her last days.

On Jan 19, Mrs Fenton’s 80th birthday, Mrs Ball said her mother had lost “an awful lot of weight” but was feeling better, and told her she “didn’t want to die”.

But it took another four days to persuade doctors to give her artificial feeding, Miss Ball said.

Mrs Ball said the fight to save her mother had been made harder by the Mental Capacity Act. “I was told that we had no rights, and food and hydration were classed as treatment, which meant they had the right to withhold feeding. It gave a doctor the power to play god with my mother’s life,” she said.

Mrs Fenton is now being looked after in a nursing home near her daughter’s home.

A spokesman for East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Patients’ needs are assessed before they are placed on the [plan]. Daily reviews are undertaken by clinicians whenever possible.”

At the same scripted event in which White House aides handed out white coats to create a propaganda moment, Barack Obama recently said:

“We have now been debating this issue of health insurance reform for months,” Obama said.  “We have listened to every charge and every counter-charge — from the crazy claims about death panels to misleading warnings about a government takeover of our health care system.”

Death panels.  Crazy, right?  Nothing like that could ever happen here.

Unless it occurs to you to stop and THINK, and ask yourself why you would think that corrupt House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charlie Rangel – or the Democrats who refuse to hold him accountable for his crimes – would be so much better than British liberals.

Provide your case that they are only evil over there in Britain, but our big government liberals here are ontologically good, and simply incapable of creating a system that would grow and degenerate until it tries to starve human beings to death.

There are all kinds of things going on in the United Kingdom and in Continental Europe that will very quickly be going on here, too, because too many of us just shut our minds off to the banality of evil that we have already seen time and time again.

And it’s already going on here.  Right now.  Under the very sort of medical system that Barack Obama wants to impose across the nation.

Take the story of Barbara Wagner, who was condemned to die by her state government medical system.  They denied her the drugs she needed to save her life, but agreed to pay for her to be euthanized.  Some faceless liberal bureaucrats “who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal” decided that Barbara Wagner’s life was not worth saving, but only worth taking.

The banality of evil.  Coming soon to a hospital or a doctor’s office near you.

And right now, Democrats are trying to expand the banality of evil.

The Wall Street Journal exposed that ObamaCare will cut essential cardiology and oncology care in order to lower the cost of the health system:

In President Obama’s Washington, medical specialists are slightly more popular than the H1N1 virus. Compared to bread-and-butter primary care doctors, specialists cost more to train and make more use of expensive procedures and technology—and therefore cost the government more money. Even so, the quiet war Democrats are waging on specialists is astonishing.

From Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’s health-care bill to changes the Administration is pushing in Medicare, Democrats are systematically attacking specific medical fields like cardiology and oncology. With almost no scrutiny, they’re trying to engineer a “cheaper” system so that government can afford to buy health care for all—even if the price is fewer and less innovative ways of extending and improving lives.

And the results of such measures and others will be a holocaust of the elderly.  With all measures undertaken in the spirit of bureaucratic efficiency:

The Congressional majority wants to pay for its $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion health bills with new taxes and a $500 billion cut to Medicare. This cut will come just as baby boomers turn 65 and increase Medicare enrollment by 30%. Less money and more patients will necessitate rationing. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 1% of Medicare cuts will come from eliminating fraud, waste and abuse.

The assault against seniors began with the stimulus package in February.  Slipped into the bill was substantial funding for comparative effectiveness research, which is generally code for limiting care based on the patient’s age.  Economists are familiar with the formula, where the cost of a treatment is divided by the number of years (called QALYs, or quality-adjusted life years) that the patient is likely to benefit. In Britain, the formula leads to denying treatments for older patients who have fewer years to benefit from care than younger patients.

It is also highly relevant that Medicare denies treatment at a rate of more than double any private insurer’s average right now.  Is government care the thing you should most trust, or the thing you should most fear?

When Barack Obama mocks “the crazy claims about death panels,” it is ultimately up to you have to ask yourself just how much you implicitly trust the government to take care of you even when it is in the bureaucrats’ economic interests to allow you to die.  And it is up to you to decide if history is incapable of repeating itself.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 517 other followers