Human Exceptionalism

Obamacare: The Bioethicists Must Think We Are Not Paying Attention

The bioethics Establishment is at it again, desperately trying to pretend that the general movement doesn’t support what it supports in regard to Obamacare. From the statement, “Three Myths About the Ethics of Healthcare Refrm,” by the Association of Bioethics Program Directors:

Myth #1: Health care reform will mean giving up control of my own health care decisions. Fact: The field of bioethics has long championed the rights of individual patients to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their physicians. If we thought the major proposals being considered posed a serious threat to these rights, we would be the first to speak out. But that is NOT the case. The right of individuals to make decisions about their health care is engrained in the ethics of American medical practice and that won’t change under any of the approaches to health care reform currently under discussion.

Except: Most bioethicists support Futile Care Theory, the idea that wanted life-sustaining treatment can be withdrawn over patient and family protest based on “quality of life” and economic considerations. The bioethics movement generally, also supports explicit forms of health care rationing. And these would be the people appointed to the many cost containment boards Obamacare would establish. That, along with the tens of thousands of pages of regulations would undoubtedly lead to centralized restrictions being imposed on individual choices and access to care.

Myth # 2: Health care reform will control health care costs by depriving patients of important, but costly, medical treatments. Fact: This is also untrue. If anything, the provisions in current health care proposals will increase the likelihood that patients will get quality medical care and decrease the likelihood of medical errors that kill thousands of patients every year. There are unethical ways to control costs, including refusing to treat the uninsured or those who have insurance but cannot afford the exorbitant out of pocket costs of expensive treatments—that is the status quo. Health care reform offers a more coherent approach to delivery of health care that aims to control costs while maintaining the quality Americans have come to expect and deserve.

Clintonism alert! Note the hedge about depriving patients “of important” treatments.  One of the fears about the cost/benefit control boards is that they will get to decide what is an important treatment–as happens in the UK continually with NICE and happens all the time in Oregon’s Medicaid rationing scheme.  Indeed, a story out of the UK today shows NICE restricting osteoporosis patients from receiving the best medications for their conditions. (I will write an “NHS Meltdown” post about that later.)

The statement also gets into the end of life counseling issue, but I have addressed that matter previously here so many times, I don’t want to repeat myself.

The statement ends with the following claim:

We commend efforts to reform the health care delivery system with commitments to cover all Americans while protecting choice and maintaining the high quality care that our fellow citizens deserve. We stand ready to aid however we can in this vital effort.

That’s nothing but a talking point soundbite, and a bad one at that.  The goals are mutually exclusive.  And the people know it. And how is it that these bioethics leaders couldn’t address the $500 billion cuts in Medicare proposed to fund this monster?

This is just proof that bioethics is highly political, overwhelmingly liberal, and wildly supportive of not only of nationalized care, but the single payer approach.  We already knew that.  But the truth is that Obamacare will come at a substantial cost in quality and accessibility currently received by the majority, to benefit the minority who currently have inadequate access.  Don’t get me wrong: The problem of expanding access is important, but it should not come at the cost of dismatling what works pretty well for most people.