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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The End of Life

In today's Boston Globe is an OpEd by a Mike Stopa, Harvard physicist and Republican activist, on end of life planning and decisions.

I liked the OpEd because it got into some of the ramifications of the subtle changes in our medical care that could come about by the 111th Congress' Health Insurance Reform bill, sometimes referred to as "ObamaCare".  And, we get a G K Chesterton reference, a bonus.

The book I am currently reading, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, makes the point that with any government controlled segment of the economy, when you get central planning you get decisions based upon "experts" attempting to predict the market, rather than market forces.  At the end of the day that means that bureaucrats make decisions for individuals that those individual might not have made for themselves.

Where this might lead we don't know.  For those who have derided the use of the term "death panels" there is the example of Germany, where such panels actually existed in the late 1930s, and operating in a way that meant it was hard for relatives to realize what was happening.  For those who say that was those bad old Nazis, I cite the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which ran from 1932 to 1972, where the patients had no idea what was going on and they were denied proper medical care without consent.  Read the book Bad Blood.  Lest you think this is just your typical racist action from Alabama, remember it was our US Public Health Service, a part of the Federal Government.

End of life planning is important for each of us and it should be part of our interaction with our Primary Care Physician, and our Clergyman and our Family and Friends.  But, it should be out in the open, for all to see.

And, we should all realize that from time to time advances in medical care come drugs or procedures tried on those who are beyond hope.  If the drug or procedure is successful, the definition of "beyond hope" changes.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Like when George W Bush was in office, the current President gets blamed for everything.

1 comment:

Renee said...

"Conversely, medical technology is forever inventing new medicines and procedures that have the potential to extend life or cure the previously incurable. Each such technique inevitably passes through a phase where it is experimental, risky, and expensive. Often enough the sky is the limit and so late in life we are all liable to become, in the words of the late Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick, “utility monsters.’’"

Sounds a bit like what I was mentioning Dick Howe's blog.