Thursday, July 23, 2009

Assault on Seniors

Since Medicare was established in 1965, access to care has enabled older Americans to avoid becoming disabled and to travel and live independently instead of languishing in nursing homes. But legislation now being rushed through Congress—H.R. 3200 and the Senate Health Committee Bill—will reduce access to care, pressure the elderly to end their lives prematurely, and doom baby boomers to painful later years.

From "GovernmentCare's Assault on Seniors" by Betsy McCaughey in today's WSJ.

(Another good reason, I would say, to quit smoking, start exercising, and reduce or eliminate animal protein from one's diet.)

1 comment:

Carol said...

For several years before she died, Paul's mother, Juanita, was under treatment for bone cancer which had come from earlier breast cancer. She took a small pill each day to kill the cancer and once a month she went to the oncologist's office for an intravenous infusion of calcium. The calcium was to fill in the little holes left in her bones after the cancer was killed. Those trips to the oncologist were exhausting for her. When she started out with the treatments the infusion itself took 2 hours - plus extra time for travel, blood work, seeing the doctor, successfully locating a vein for the treatment, etc., and long waits between each of these things. After a number of months the nurse one day said that Juanita was going to receive a different infusion that day - one that required only 15 minutes. Hooray!! We were thrilled!! That nurse and other nurses in later months commented on how "lucky" she was that her insurance was allowing the shorter treatment since most people had to get the slower one. I attribute it to the very good supplemental insurance she had in addition to Medicare. (Juanita would sometimes comment to other patients receiving chemo in the room with her about what good insurance she had!) When I think about the proposed health treatment changes and what we know of the bill being considered by Congress and what Obama has said about what the future holds, I doubt that the 15-minute treatment would be allowed. It didn't result in any better final outcome for Juanita - it just made the treatments easier on her. It wouldn't hold up under Obama's cost-benefit analysis. (Actually, I wonder if she would even have been considered a candidate for the treatment at all under that analysis. She was in her 80's and had other health issues. The treatments did lessen the pain she was having in her bones, though, and I think they extended her life.) I doubt that in the long term people would be allowed, even if they could afford to pay for it themselves, to receive better treatments than what was provided to everyone else, and I doubt that "supplemental" insurance would long survive under what is proposed.

This is the reason why Paul and I have not joined AARP. We disagree with their philosophy. They have taken exactly this position on medical treatments in the past - that people should not have the option, even if they can pay for it themselves, to choose different treatment than what is provided generally.