Healthcare Rationing Oregon Style

Oregon rations healthcare to Medicaid recipients. Terminal cancer patients are denied chemotherapy to extend life–and now the Oregon rationing board wants to go deeper into the weeds. From Hope Landsem’s Wall Street Journal blog:

Liberal states often preview health-care central planning before the same regulations go national, which ought to make an Oregon cost-control commission especially scary. On Thursday a state board could change Oregon’s Medicaid program to deny costly care to poor patients who need it most.

Like most such panels, including the Affordable Care Act’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission, or HERC, claims to be merely concerned with what supposedly works and what doesn’t. Their real targets are usually advanced, costly treatments. That’s why HERC, for example, proposed in May that Medicaid should not cover “treatment with intent to prolong survival” for cancer patients who likely have fewer than two years left to live. HERC presents an example to show their reasoning for such a decision: “In no instance can it be justified to spend $100,000 in public resources to increase an individual’s expected survival by three months when hundreds of thousands of Oregonians are without any form of health insurance.”

Let us not forget that Oregon Medicaid happily pays for assisted suicide–and indeed, has offered terminal cancer patients that option while denying life-extending treatment.

Also, Vermont–which legalized assisted suicide recently–enacted a single payer plan the state can’t yet pay for. And guess what: Using assisted suicide and rationing are both on the table as means of paying for the program. No question: Centralized control, mixed with culture of death values make for a toxic brew.

As for the eventual push to turn Obamacare into single payer: As I wrote at length, health care rationing is central to the operation of single payer systems. Obamacarians want more!

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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