As I have discussed here previously, the first state to explicitly ration Medicaid–an integral feature of all single payer systems–tightened the screws against terminal cancer patients a few months ago. Now, the issues is gaining wider discussion in Oregon. From an opinion column published in the Statesman Journal by Peter J. Pitts:
In August, Oregon’s Health Evidence Review Commission issued an update to its guidelines for providing cancer treatment to low-income individuals covered by the state Medicaid program. These new guidelines require that Medicaid deny coverage for certain cancer treatments for patients that have been deemed “too” sick, haven’t responded well to previous treatments, or can’t care for themselves.
Through these new rules, Oregon state bureaucrats are severely restricting access to care and dooming potentially thousands of local patients to a premature death…It’s true that for some late-stage cancer patients, the odds are long than any additional treatment can help. But without access to the latest that medical science has to offer, a patient’s survival rate simply drops to zero.
These guidelines dictate that Medicaid only provide “palliative” care – painkillers, acupuncture treatments, wheelchairs, drugs for nausea, and the like.
It’s death panel time!
Oregon’s new Medicaid guidelines take treatment decisions out of the hands of doctors and patients and put them in the hands of distance state bureaucrat willing to cut costs no matter the human toll. It’s the practice of cost-centric controls over patient-centric care.
In the new USA, these kind of death maneuvers will always be done in the bowels of the deep bureaucracy without direct representational democratic involvement.
Whose life is it, anyway, we are often asked? In government-supplied healthcare, the answer is: The State’s!
Oh well–as a Medicaid administrator callously told two rationed-out cancer patients in 2008–you always have assisted suicide! Indeed, I believe the two are intended to work hand in glove with each other.