Obama Health Care Bill Will Lead To Coercion At Both Ends of Life

A few weeks ago, President Obama demanded that a national health care bill be on his desk before Congress’s summer recess. Since then, frenetic attempts to ram the 1,000-page bill through Congress have all but collapsed, as more and more politicians on both sides of the aisle have balked. Obama has been forced to back off, even while reiterating that, without deadlines, “nothing gets done in this town.”

Meanwhile, the gigantic bill’s ideologically hard-left, financially ruinous content is seeping into the public consciousness. And the outcry against Obamacare is growing in volume. This is especially true among pro-life groups, who are quite worried about what we see in the bill.

From our perspective, Obama’s supposed "reform" of the health care system doesn’t look like reform at all. Instead, it looks remarkably similar to some of the “health care” policies in nations whose focus is not on actual health care, but on population control, coercion, quotas, and rationing.

Abortion is an integral part of Obama’s vision for universal health care. In the bill’s current form, every taxpayer would have no choice but to pay for abortion with their tax dollars. The bill would also discriminate against medical practitioners who refused to perform abortions, practitioners who would face unemployment as a result. It would tear down existing state conscience clauses, overriding them with a federal abortion mandate. It would also put nearly all existing medical insurance providers out of business over time, gradually making Obama pro-abortion insurance the only insurance available.

In other words, this bill is the most potent push for abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision. Roe v. Wade simply made abortion-on-demand legal. Obama not only wants abortion to be available, he wants you to pay for it, advocate it and, if you are a medical practitioner, perform it, regardless of how strongly your pro-life sentiments are held.

How will the President and Congressional liberals pay for their trillion-dollar plan? They say that they will slash unnecessary costs, but the way the bill reads they will actually be slashing "unnecessary" people.

The groundwork for this was laid, unnoticed by pretty much everyone, in the recent stimulus package. Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York and the chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infectious Deaths, was one of the only ones to notice the language. In a February 9th Bloomberg piece, she reported on a little-known insertion to the stimulus bill that said that “one new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).” As McCaughey points out, these types of provisions are nearly always code for health-care rationing for seniors.

The health care bill now being proposed takes these measures a step further. In section 1233, the bill says that the elderly shall receive an actual visit from a government official, who will conduct an “advance care planning consultation,” if “the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years.” It goes on to outline what would be discussed at this “consultation,” subjects like “the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulseless, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems,” “the individual’s desire regarding transfer to a hospital or remaining at the current care setting,” “the use of antibiotics,” and “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.”

At first glance, it may seem that the elderly, who may not be fully aware of their options, are simply being offered a spectrum of end-of-life treatments. But we at PRI believe that this is in fact an effort to deny the elderly such things. This language will allow meddlesome government bureaucrats into your home to pressure you to refuse—in advance—lifesaving medical care on cost-cutting grounds.

If this seems like an overreaction, consider the records of the political appointees who will be implementing this provision.

Take John Holdren, Obama’s new science czar. Holdren has written quite explicitly in favor of mandatory population control. In a book (entitled Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment and co-authored with Paul and Anne Ehrlich of “population bomb” fame, Holdren speculates on how population control could probably be instituted without changing the American constitution.

In another noteworthy example, Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s new HHS secretary (replacing the scandal-ridden Tom Daschle), recently complained that most American insurance packages do not include abortion except in limited circumstances. Sebelius also drew fire from pro-lifers because of huge campaign donations that she received from the late abortion doctor George Tiller.

And then there is Obama himself, the most pro-abortion, pro-population control president we have ever had. He claims that his health care reform will not increase the national deficit by a single dime. This is, of course, utterly impossible, unless some major concessions are made in the quality of care that Americans receive. Seen in this way, the visit from a government-sponsored “practitioner” sounds less like a complimentary consultation, and more like a government cost-saving measure. It will be at this meeting that the government will decide whether or not a person is worth continuing to care for, or is simply “burdening” the system.

The question is this: Is Obama offering universal insurance to all Americans, but at the cost of health care? Does he think that Americans want universal insurance so badly that they are willing to give up their existing rights to medical care in order to get it?

As a divided Congress, an increasingly critical media, and plummeting approval ratings seem to indicate, the answer is a resounding “no.”

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  • jpckcmo

    End of life decisions should be part of our regular conversation with our physician, no matter how old we are. It is the only way that those who love us will know what to do when we cannot express out desires ourselves. When my parents were dying, it was a great comfort to me that I knew that they did not want any extraordinary measures taken.

    There is nothing “mandatory” in this legislation. It is cosponsored by democrats and republicans. It simply allows you to consult with your doctor and the government pays for the consultation. You can say you wish to have every means available put to the purpose of keeping you alive, or you don’t. This is a scare tactic used to scuttle health care reform and it will not work. Most people want some kind of public option, most people would like to have a say in how they die. To me, this is the essence of the “pursuit of happiness.”

  • fatherjo

    Obama and his cronies have no respect for little babies. What makes you think they will respect elderly or handicapped people? They have no business fiddling with the nation’s healthcare. Hosting “beer summits” is more up their alley.

  • kirbys

    jpckcmo,

    You wrote, “Most people want some kind of public option, most people would like to have a say in how they die. To me, this is the essence of the ‘pursuit of happiness.’”

    As Catholics, is this truly our focus? Control over how we die is pursuing happiness? What happened to submitting to the Lord in all things? What about sacrificial suffering, as it comes? As I read this article, it seems to me that the public option will be controlled by the government:

    ” In a February 9th Bloomberg piece, she reported on a little-known insertion to the stimulus bill that said that “one new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).” As McCaughey points out, these types of provisions are nearly always code for health-care rationing for seniors.”

    I have older relatives who have made decisions regarding this with which I am morally uncomfortable. In fact, I won’t be part of their decision (withholding food and hydration), but at least I know they made it–perhaps coerced by their lawyer, perhaps not–by themselves. I guess I am grateful that there is no official “threshhold of treatment”–yet–but I don’t think my generation (I’m 42) will have options.

  • elkabrikir

    Please remember that during the 2008 presidential election campaign Obama and his cronies paid people to post their propaganda on “comment boards” such as this one.

    Note that George Soros, the infamous multibilionaire funds much of this propaganda, disguised as “Mary and Joe Catholic” simply posting their views. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=977

    If something seems to smell, dig deeper, you may have found a cesspool.

    PRI is a small not-for-profit organization. As with similar prolife, Christian organizations, like Priests For Life, what do they have to gain by educating us through articles such as this one? There is no money/power trail leading back to folks getting richer and more powerful with each tick of the clock and click of the mouse. The only thing prolife organizations hope to gain, is the treasure of your soul for Jesus Christ.

  • mallys

    **jpckcmo says: “When my parents were dying, it was a great comfort to me that I knew that they did not want any extraordinary measures taken.”

    According to Catholic teaching, nutrition and hydration–explicitly mentioned in this bill–are not extraordinary, but ordinary, care.

    **”There is nothing “mandatory” in this legislation.”

    That is debatable–and needs to be debated before it is passed.

    **”It is cosponsored by democrats and republicans.”

    Not true, All nine sponsors are Democrats. The first outright lie (not just a matter of interpretation or spin) in this post.

    **”It simply allows you to consult with your doctor and the government pays for the consultation.”

    So it has been said, but Medicare does not forbid your doctor from asking these questions now, but it also does not specifically schedule an appointment to force the patient into the discussion.

    **”You can say you wish to have every means available put to the purpose of keeping you alive, or you don’t.”

    If you are repeatedly asked the same questions, doesn’t it appear they are wanting you to change the answers?

    **”This is a scare tactic used to scuttle health care reform and it will not work.”

    Ad hominem attack, not argument.

    **”Most people want some kind of public option, most people would like to have a say in how they die. To me, this is the essence of the “pursuit of happiness.”

    You have every option to tell how you want to die–within the limits of the law–now. Talk to your attorney. He or she will be happy to help you. There is no necessity to write legislation to tell others how they should die.

  • jpckcmo

    How convenient it would be for you (and me) if I was being paid to post. Unfortunately for you (and me), I am not.

    The end of life provision is a bipartisan entry into Medicare reform. In fact, there are two Republican cosponsors in the House Bill (HR 1898), one of them a doctor. It is not mandatory. The doctor that you have chosen may bring up the subject, but you are free to reject it out of hand. And there is no requirement to force you to talk about it every five years. If you don’t like your doctor, you can change your doctor.

    I can assure you that both my parents, rejecting extraordinary measures to stay alive, are resting peacefully in their heaven. They died with dignity, with loving people around them. We had conversations about these issues before they were ill, and they both had Living Wills. They loved God and are with Him now.

    Nothing in this legislation tells you how to die. In fact, it frees you from insurance companies telling you how you will die. Now, that’s scary.

  • kirbys

    Change my doctor? No, thanks. However, my Catholic doctors may retire and refuse to practice, as they may not have the choice to practice non-contraceptive care, or not refer for abortions, or allow hydration and nutrition to continue in a hospital or nursing home setting. In fact, if there are no conscience clauses, I am hoping that every single Catholic hospital shuts their doors in protest; I am hoping that perhaps that is a reason why this thing hasn’t passed.

    At least insurance companies don’t have the police or IRS under their direction…

  • jpckcmo

    Fear mongering again. Nothing this President has done indicates that he hates the elderly and would target them for euthanasia. The idea of th IRS or the police is ridiculous. He has shown nothing but tolerance and compassion for the people of this country. He differs with you on abortion, but you can work with him, so do it. Take advantage of this opportunity to reduce the number of abortions in this country and to make every child wanted.

  • mallys

    Well, well, well, jpckcmo. You are conflating two bills. The “every five years” timetable that is being discussed in the media, as well as the sponsorship of nine Democrats to which I referred both are features of HR 3200, the 1017 page comprehensive healthcare bill, also called the Tri-Commitee bill, and most commonly characterized as the Obama healthcare bill (though it was not in fact sent down from the White House). From the context of the article, that is the bill under discussion here.

    Thank you, however, for bringing this other bill to our attention, since a cursory reading of the bill also brings up the limitation on nutrition and hydration, which, as I mentioned, the Catholic way of life, informed by the teachings of our Church, regards as ordinary, not extraordinary, care. This appears to be a “slippery slope” bill, and pro-life Catholics (and others) need to watch it carefully as well.

    BTW, what do Medicare (a public option, if there ever was one) and insurance companies “telling you how you will die” have to do with each other? People buy Medicare supplements to cover what Medicare won’t pay for, not the other way around. Medicare not only limits what is covered, but what percentage of the normal cost they will pay for. That is why many doctors limit the number of Medicare patients they will accept: they can’t afford to eat the costs.

  • jpckcmo

    And thank you for bringing to my attention the other bill. The five-year look at end of life care is NOT mandatory. It simply means that the government will pay for this consultation every five years. Again, it is in consultation with your doctor, not some government worker knocking on your door every five years and demanding that you renew your subscription to end of life decisions.

    And, by the way, it is interesting that the person who finds all this ominous language in the bill, Betsy McCaughey, sits on the board of one of the country’s biggest manufacturer of medical devices. But I’m sure there is no conflict of interest there.

    The elderly are not the only people who deal with end of life decisions–and before you are on Medicare, you can bet that an insurance company is going to play a role in those decisions. The purchase of supplemental plans to Medicare only defeats the argument of a public option putting private insurance out of business. There will always be people who will wish to supplement their public plan.

  • benjamin

    Before I begin, I’d just like to say that I’m not Catholic, but merely a sympathetic protestant. I attended a Catholic high school a few years back, and subsequently know that many of our beliefs and sentiments are held in common; it is this knowledge that enables me to feel at ease on this site. Please do not hold it against me.

    I will begin with end-of-life counseling. The name is a bit of a misnomer; such counseling should not occur only at the end of life, nor even only when elderly. Ideally, this counseling is a meeting between a patient (of any age) and a doctor/lawyer/professional wherein the patient decides to what lengths they are prepared to go to stay alive (among other things). This can be anything from merely nutrition and hydration all the way to the most extreme measures (example: “iron lung” assisted breathing). Unfortunately, this type of conversation doesn’t occur as regularly as it should; hospitals frequently receive unconscious persons in highly critical condition without any stated policy about what procedures they are willing to undergo. In such cases the hospital and doctors must err on the side of caution and go to every length to resuscitate the patient. Such practices can often be unnecessary (if the patient would have refused the treatment) and, in a nutshell, costly to the system. Thus, it only makes sense to provide and promote this service for the public. Can it be subject to abuse? Perhaps; but under the current proposal, I doubt it.

    One additional comment: rationing. This word has been bandied around of late as a dirty and repulsive product of government meddling in healthcare. The unfortunate truth is that rationing occurs in any healthcare system. In our current model, cost is the effective rationer: only the wealthy can afford the best of everything; the rest of us are forced to pick and choose which procedures are worth our meager resources, to say nothing of those who get locked out of the system due to a lack of any resources. Yes, money is the current key to our healthcare system; Obama merely proposes to take this rationing process out of the hands of merciless market forces (for what is capitalism if not competition; well, I’m being slightly facetious here. My apologies) and place it into the hands of intelligent, well-meaning government officials. Thus one hopes that, with planning and good management of resources, these government officials can maximize the availability of effective treatments while reducing the cost across the board. Yes, this may be a bit naive and idealistic, but perhaps that’s what we need at this juncture.

    One more note on rationing: as long as some vestige of our current healthcare system survives the healthcare reform, the wealthy need not worry about rationing. It is my hope that a balance can be struck: governmental healthcare providing a blanket of effective and necessary treatment while doctors and hospitals continue to offer the auxiliary treatments on the side, for those willing to pay a premium. Such a system would be, to my mind at least, ideal; whether or not the current proposal will lead to such a system, only time will tell. I remain hopeful.

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