Kathleen Parker tries to ginny up a nightmare scenario that might lend the “death panel” crowd some legitimacy.
While there are undoubtedly some kernels of truth in criticisms of the massive and complex bill, speaking in a calm voice doesn’t guarantee plausibility:
But we can also imagine a scenario when, feeble and ill, we might be subtly urged to forgo further life-sustaining treatment out of consideration for others. Given that “actionable medical orders” can be formulated from advance care consultations, the danger is that life-sustaining care would be precluded based on a check-mark on a document you signed five years earlier.
Please. People are already subtly hinting that my death would make things easier on their pocketbook. Love you, Honey!
That nightmare scenario aside (which already takes place in our current system), Parker suggests a fateful day where you’ve created a living will in order to keep yourself from rotting as a vegetable in a nursing home with your brain turned to mush, you will be cognizant and loving life when they inform you, “Sorry, Mr. Johnson, but five years ago you said you didn’t want this liver transplant (after, of course, you were subtly urged to decline it). We cannot go forward with this procedure!”
This is, of course, fantasy. Remember what we’re talking about here: coverage of voluntary end of life counseling sessions, and the creation of living wills.
Yes, folks, that’s it. Living wills. Got one? If you’re married, you should have one (as soon as you can afford the lawyer).
Yes, Kathleen, “actionable medical orders” can be formulated from advance care consultations. This is called the practice of medicine. You describe how you want to be treated. As long as you have your senses, you can alter your living will. You will not be murdered by your past self, ala some freaky time-bending thriller (starring Nicolas Cage).
But Parker kinda admits overall that she’s got nothin’. Sarah Palin’s Terrordrome prophecies simply aren’t true. We are looking at nothing more than allowing all people into hospitals for regular, quality care. It’s true there won’t be money for everything, but that’s already the case. This is exactly how the system works. And no private insurer is lining up to cover the utterly unprofitable elderly. The government has already been taking care of the old in good fashion, and will continue to do so. We all know where our ailing elderly are: in nursing homes, the tax dollars flowing as they are looked after every day, consuming expensive medicines. Families will make decisions for them, but they will be given the opportunity to decide for themselves regardless of their condition.
This power, of you declaring that you do not want to be kept artificially alive, indefinitely, long after your mind has descended into dementia or catatonia…this is your fundamental right as a human being, the author of your own life.
It’s time for Democrats and every lefty to stop and drop the shame. You’ve won the argument. You’ve got the power. There is really nothing to be afraid of. Keep pushing forward. And if it gets pushed a little later, keep rolling with it. The forces against reform were never going to be an easy fight. They’ve hit us their hardest, and it was like a crazy wet noodle. It’s time for America to start looking after its own health, and by god some day it might mean a tax on your paycheck. I don’t know about some people, but that’s the easiest bill I’ve ever paid. It’s gone before I know it. Most jobs deduct a chunk from your paycheck for health care anyway. I don’t see why I can’t have that money converted into a tax, with the promise that I’ll get the kind of guaranteed treatment people in all other Western civilizations enjoy.
There is not much to fear, and many fears that would dissipate upon passage of this bill. Right now our “death panels” are those insurance companies who decided you’re not going to have a treatment covered because you didn’t tell them about your acne. The elderly are rejected outright. The poor are told “Get a good job!” Got heart disease? “Come back when you can afford the deductible.”
Such things are evil, just like Sarah Palin says. And that’s why the Democrats are trying to pass this bill. While rightwingers babble about imaginary dead babies and grandmas, we can point to real dead babies and grandmas who private insurers left behind. We own the moral high ground.