Ted Kennedy is Fortunate the Government Isn't Deciding for Him What He Wants It to Decide for Us
A couple of days ago, William Kristol wrote about Sen. Ted Kennedy's recent call for health-care rationing, "Kennedy: Let's Ration Health Care":
... Sen. Kennedy has weighed in, and he may have helped doom Obamacare.***
For Kennedy and his co-author, Bob Shrum, have let the rationing cat out of the bag. And that's a problem for President Obama and the Democrats. Make no mistake: Beyond all the other crippling problems with the Democrats' health care proposal--its cost at a time of massive deficits, the tax increases it requires at a time of recession, its preference for government over the private sector and for central planning over free competition--the deepest vulnerability of Obamacare is that it (intentionally) puts us on a course towards government rationing of health care.
Here's the key paragraph from Kennedy and Shrum:We also need to move from a system that rewards doctors for the sheer volume of tests and treatments they prescribe to one that rewards quality and positive outcomes. For example, in Medicare today, 18 percent of patients discharged from a hospital are readmitted within 30 days--at a cost of more than $15 billion in 2005. Most of these readmissions are unnecessary, but we don't reward hospitals and doctors for preventing them. By changing that, we'll save billions of dollars while improving the quality of care for patients...
... the most important implication of the Kennedy-Shrum claim -- "Most of these readmissions are unnecessary, but we don't reward hospitals and doctors for preventing them. By changing that, we'll save billions of dollars." -- is this: The government is going to decide--ahead of time, obviously, since deciding after the fact wouldn't save any money; and based on certain general criteria, since the government isn't going to review each individual case--what kinds of hospital readmissions for the elderly are "unnecessary" and what kinds aren't. And it's going to set up a system "to reward hospitals and doctors for preventing" the unnecessary ones. That is, the government will reward hospitals and doctors for denying care they now provide, care the government will now deem "unnecessary."
Indeed, this understates the case. For in reality the government isn't going simply to reward "good" and penalize "bad" admissions. It's going to prevent insurance companies from paying for "unnecessary" admissions and procedures, if those companies want to participate in the government system. In other words, government bureaucrats are going to deem entire categories of treatment inefficient for all or certain categories of patients, and put those treatments out of bounds for doctors and hospitals.Never mind that Kennedy and Shrum - both Catholics - are calling for something that violates Church teaching (granted, nothing new for those two).
The real irony is that Sen. Kennedy is in favor of mandating for the rest of us something that would, arguably, deny him the life-prolonging treatment he is currently receiving (were he a mere peon like the rest of us).
James Lewis, writing at The American Thinker, asks the question no one in the mainstream media has been willing to ask ObamaCare's proponents: "Does Ted Kennedy deserve his extended cancer care?":
Senator Ted Kennedy, who is now 76 years old and was diagnosed with brain cancer in May of last year, is telling the world that nationalized medical care is "the cause of his life." He wants to see it pass as soon as possible, before he departs this vale of tears.(emphasis in original)
The prospect of Kennedy's passing is viewed by the liberal press with anticipatory tears and mourning. But they are not asking the proper question by their own lights: That question -- which will be asked for you and me when we reach his age and state in life --- is this:
Is Senator Kennedy's life valuable enough to dedicate millions of dollars to extending it another month, another day, another year?
Because Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy agree with each other that they of all people are entitled to make that decision. Your decision to live or die will now be in their hands.
Ted Kennedy is now 76. Average life expectancy in the United States is 78.06. For a man who has already reached 76, life expectancy is somewhat longer than average (since people who die younger lower the national average); for a wealthy white man it may be somewhat longer statistically; but for a man with diagnosed brain cancer it is correspondingly less. As far as the actuarial tables of the Nanny State are concerned, Kennedy is due to leave this life some time soon. The socialist State is not sentimental, at least when it comes to the lives of ordinary people like you and me.
The socialist question -- and yes, it is being asked very openly in socialist countries all around the world, like Britain and Sweden -- must be whether extending Senator Kennedy's life by another day, another month or year is socially valuable enough to pay for what is no doubt a gigantic and growing medical bill. Kennedy is a US Senator, and all that money has been coughed up without complaint by the US taxpayer. Kennedy is already entitled to Federal health care, and it is no doubt the best available to anyone in the world.
Before he dies, Senator Kennedy wants to feel sure that you and I and our loved ones can put that personal decision about life or death safely in the hands of a Federal bureaucrat. It is "the cause of his life," we are told...