Tuesday, April 05, 2011

RomneyCare© Death Panels

It's conventional wisdom that ObamaCare© is, in general, a nationalized version of Massachusetts' state-run health insurance scheme. Most of the focus on the Bay State's program has been on the mandates and unexpected cost-overruns, but something that seems to have flown under the radar is RomneyCare©'s Death Panel.

Of course it's not called that. Known in the parlance as "the Expert Panel on End of Life Care," this unelected commission is charged with determining appropriate funding for that purpose. The problem, of course, is that it's never really that simple:

"(W)hen the Panelists insist that keeping us out of the ICU and sending us either home or to a hospice is not about the money but rather is about giving us what we really want, they are engaging in willful institutional deceit."

Which is not to say that they're motivated by malevolence, but if the mission is to save money (and it is), then what better way to do so? And how do we know this? Well, that requires digging a little deeper:

"(T)he Experts recommend that "any Commonwealth payment reform initiative should be designed to ensure that, for all patients with serious advancing illness...payment for medical services requires adequate documentation that they are based on the well-informed wishes of patients (or appropriate surrogates), including understanding of life-prolonging and palliative care or hospice alternatives."

On its face, that doesn't seem so foreboding. But then there's that tricky little "adequate documentation." What, exactly, does that mean? Harvard nanotechnologist Michael Stopa thinks he knows:

"(I)ntroductory courses like Greeting the Grim Reaper; practical offerings like Mummies for Dummies: Embalming Made Easy; or maybe business-related electives like Buying the Perfect Farm."

Although he offers this tongue-in-cheek, it's not exactly far-fetched. While making an informed decision is a good thing, having to essentially pass a government-mandated test on determining one's own end (or that of a loved one) seems, well, overly intrusive. Balanced against that, of course, is the fact that the state is, in fact, paying the bill (or at least the lion's share). The bigger concern is that these folks are unelected (and unaccountable - sound familiar?); who's watching them?
blog comments powered by Disqus