Tevi Troy reports on what President Obama told the New York Times about his health care proposals and end of life care:
He tells the story of his grandmother, who got an expensive hip replacement, then died two weeks later. President Obama says he “would have paid for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother.” At the same time, however, he notes that “whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question.” Furthermore, he recognizes that Americans don’t want to hear that we will not provide expensive late-stage care, a la England. As the president puts it, “If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn’t have a hip replacement, and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life — that would be pretty upsetting.”
His answer to this question, however, is also somewhat upsetting — and not just because he calls denying care to the terminally ill “very difficult” and “upsetting,” but never “something we won’t do.” He says that “there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.” And not only will this be difficult, he claims, but he has trouble imagining “the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.” It is unclear what this group will look like, but the notion of some empyrean body, developed outside the normal political channels, making health-care decisions for the country, is a notion that makes me very, very nervous.
Does it make you nervous? Won’t state-controlled, state-dispensed health care open the door for such cost-saving measures as euthanasia?