Human Exceptionalism

“Bring Out Your Dead!”–Obama Health Care Power Grab

Health care reform is turning into one of the most radical power grabs our country has ever seen.  First, it is now clear that President Obama wants utilitarian bioethicists of the ilk of Peter Singer to decide what treatment you can have and what you can’t have.  From the story:

In an interview with ABC News’ Dr. Timothy Johnson, the president elaborated on one way he would try to control costs: “a panel of medical experts that are making determinations about what protocols are appropriate for what diseases.  There’s going to be some disagreement, but if there’s broad agreement that, in this situation the blue pill works better than the red pill, and it turns out the blue pills are half as expensive as the red pill, then we want to make sure that doctors and patients have that information available.”

The president said that “the decisions, right now, are being made by insurance companies.  And I think a whole lot of people out there are having bad experiences because they know that recommendations are coming from people who have a profit motive. Now, if I’ve got a panel of doctors and experts whose only motivation is making sure that we get the most bang for the buck in our health care, I think that’s a situation that most Americans would feel pretty good about.”

Like heck! Right now, private companies can substitute generics for brand name drugs–if the efficacy is the same. But they can’t legally refuse to cover non experimental efficacious treatments. And if they do, they can be sued, state regulators can punish them, adverse media coverage can hurt the company’s public relations, etc.  Not a perfect system, and as a Naderite I know there are often injustices, but there is at least the fear of righteous consequences for breaching the insurance contract. 

But if federal law explicitly empowers a bioethics board, like NICE in the UK, to make these decisions, where could denied patients turn?  The bureaucracy on appeal would be stifling.  Ever try to get proper benefits that were denied by the VA awarded on appeal like my family has?  Good luck!

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