Reminder to Grandma: Get Your Pacemaker Now

/2009/08/23/memo-to-grandma-get-your-pacemaker-before-obamacare-passes/

It’s now pretty standard for news stories in the mainstream media–I’m not talking about opinion pieces–to label the idea that Obamacare would include “death panels” as a patently “false rumor.”

The only problem: President Obama. It was he, not Sarah Palin, who first raised the idea that healthcare reform had to include committees to decide whether elderly and disabled people would receive life-extending treatment.

Here’s Dr. Rich Fogaros of Dr. Rich’s Covert Rationing Blog,

DrRich is very sorry to have to tell his friends of the Democratic persuasion the sad truth – it was President Obama who created this circumstance. Sarah Palin may have named the death panels, but before she ever thought of the phrase, President Obama had already described them in some detail.

He described their function, how they would operate, and who they would target. During the past 6 months President Obama has actually offered several short discussions on what a “death panel” might be expected to accomplish. But perhaps the most instructive example is the one he gave on ABC television during his June 24 National Town Hall meeting.

DrRich refers, of course, to the famous question about the 100-year-old woman who received a pacemaker. The questioner pointed out that her grandmother had badly needed a pacemaker, but had been turned down by a doctor because of her age. A second doctor, noting the patient’s alertness, zest for life, and generally youthful “spirit,” inserted the pacemaker despite her advanced age. Her symptoms resolved, and Grandma continues to do well 5 years later. The question for the President was: Under an Obama healthcare system, will an elderly person’s general state of health, and her “spirit,” be taken into account when making medical decisions – or will these decisions be made according to age only?

President Obama’s answer was clear. It is really not feasible, he indicated, to take “spirit” into account. We are going to make medical decisions based on objective evidence, and not subjective impressions. If the evidence shows that some form of treatment “is not necessarily going to improve care, then at least we can let the doctors know that – you know what? – maybe this isn’t going to help; maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the pain pill.”

The “take a pill” vid is here.

More from Dr. Rich:

(DrRich will give President Obama the benefit of the doubt regarding his suggestion that a 100-year-old women who needs a pacemaker might be better off with a pain pill. Despite the way he is portrayed on the cover of Time Magazine, Mr. Obama is not actually a doctor, and cannot be expected to understand that using a “pain pill” to treat an elderly woman who is lightheaded, dizzy, weak and possibly syncopal because of a slow heart rate might justifiably be considered a form of euthanasia rather than comfort care. DrRich does not believe the President was intentionally suggesting the old woman’s death should be actively hastened by means of a pain pill. At the same time, DrRich’s advice to this still-spry 105-year-old Grandma is: since pacemakers usually need to be replaced every 6 – 7 years, you’d better think about having your 5-year-old pacemaker replaced right now, before the Obama plan has a chance to become law.)

President Obama’s answer in this case tells us several things. 1) There will be a panel, or commission, or body of some sort, that is going to examine the medical evidence on how effective a certain treatment is likely to be in a certain population of patients. 2) This (let’s call it a “panel”) panel will “let the doctors know” whether that treatment ought to be used in those patients. (”Letting the doctor know” is a euphemism for “guidelines,” which itself is a euphemism for  legally-binding and ruthlessly enforced directives.). 3) “Subjective” measures (such as a physician’s clinical judgment as to an individual’s likelihood of responding to a therapy as the panel says they will – or, for that matter, a person’s “spirit”) ought not to influence these treatment recommendations, since that kind of subjective judgment is what got us into all this fiscal trouble in the first place.  4) But being that our government is a compassionate and caring one, palliative care will be made available in the form of pain control, even while withholding potentially curative care.

So what’s this “false” business?

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