Medical Murder: Why Obamacare Could Result in the Early Deaths of Millions of Baby Boomers (FULL TEXT)
by Richard Poe
Sunday, September 20, 2009
2:16 pm Eastern Time
IMAGINE lying in some government-run hospital, hospice or nursing home many years from now. Imagine languishing unattended for days in soiled sheets, suffering from hunger and thirst, covered with bed sores, your flesh aboil with untreated infections. Imagine living in fear of resentful, underpaid health aides who take out their anger on you and abuse you. And imagine spending your final moments on earth in the company of a government health care worker with a syringe, who injects you with a lethal cocktail.
Do you find this hard to imagine? You should. In any civilized country, such things should not happen — ever. But President Obama’s health care proposals have the potential to turn this nightmare into a reality for many Americans.
Especially vulnerable are the 80 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. (1) If you belong to that group, take note. Your generation has been targeted for a program of age-based medical rationing such as our country has never before experienced.
Obamacare is a cost-cutting plan. Many Americans do not understand this. President Obama has promised huge cuts in medical spending. In fact, he has warned that if we fail to make such cuts, we will face financial Armageddon.
“Make no mistake: the cost of our health care is a threat to our economy…,” Obama told the American Medical Association in Chicago on June 15. “It is a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America. … If we fail to act, one out of every five dollars we earn will be spent on health care within a decade. And if we fail to act, federal spending on Medicaid and Medicare … will eventually grow larger than what our government spends on anything else today.” (2)
To avoid this catastrophe, we must make drastic cuts in health spending, says Obama. The size of his proposed cuts varies from speech to speech, but the figure cited most often by Obama’s advisers is 30 percent — up to $700 billion annually. (3)
A 30-percent annual cut is going to take a big bite out of somebody’s health care. The only question is whose. The numbers make clear that most of these cuts will have to come at the expense of those who need health care the most — the elderly, the disabled and the gravely ill.
“Older, sicker societies pay more on health care than younger, healthier ones,” Obama told the AMA.
He is right. According to a 2006 study by the Department of Health and Human Services, five percent of the U.S. population accounts for nearly 50 percent of health care spending in America. Who are those five percent? Most are people over 65 years of age with serious, chronic illnesses. (4)
By contrast, the study notes, half of the U.S. population “spends little or nothing on health care … with annual medical spending below $664 per person.” These, of course, are mostly healthy young people — people without serious, chronic illnesses.
Obviously, Obama will not meet his cost-cutting targets by reducing care to healthy young people. They are already spending next to nothing. It is the old, the dying and the chronically ill whose health care he will cut. The numbers make this clear.
At present, the main vehicle of Obamacare is the so-called Affordable Health Choices Act, introduced on June 9. (5)
This law will force Americans to enroll in “qualified” health plans — that is, plans approved and controlled by the government. We will be invited to “choose” between “public” and “private” insurance plans, but we will find little difference between them. “Public” or “private,” they will all follow the same rules, dictated by the Department of Health and Human Services — the same agency, incidentally, which issued the report cited above (“The High Concentration of U.S. Health Care Expenditures,” 2006). (6)
How will Obama cut costs? His June 13 radio speech gave some hints. Obama said his plan would give “incentives” to doctors to “avoid unnecessary hospital stays, treatments and tests that drive up costs.” (7)
And what sort of treatment does Obama consider “unnecessary?” In an ABC News special on June 24, he implied that medical treatment might be wasted on elderly people with grave illnesses, citing his own grandmother as an example. (8)
Dying of cancer, with less than a year to live, Obama’s grandmother broke her hip. “[T]he question was, does she get hip replacement surgery, even though she was fragile enough they were not sure how long she would last?” asked the President.
It turns out that Obama’s grandmother did get the hip replacement — though he did not say so on ABC that night. (9) Obama left the story about his grandmother unfinished. He went on to suggest, however, that other people faced with such choices might do well to forget about surgery and settle instead for palliative or comfort care — treatment that helps you feel better while you are dying, but does not prolong your life.
“Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller,” Obama concluded.
It is already happening in Europe
If you want to see how you will die, you need no crystal ball. Just go to Europe. There you can get a glimpse of your future.
In Europe, governments already ration health care, just as Obama plans to do here. The older and sicker you are, the less care you get.
In England, for example, bureaucrats determine a patient’s eligibility for health care using the QALY system (quality-adjusted life years). They divide the cost of treatment by the number of “quality” years the patient is expected to live. Older, sicker patients are expected to live fewer “quality” years, so why bother treating them at all? On this basis, British elders are routinely denied treatment for cancer, heart disease and other deadly illnesses. (10)
Many die in filthy, overcrowded hospitals or nursing homes, rife with pestilence, including the deadly, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” Clostridium difficile and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Each year in the UK, nearly three times more people die from hospital infections than from traffic accidents. (11)
In the nation where Florence Nightingale invented modern nursing 150 years ago, cleanliness has become a lost art. British newspapers reported in 2007 that patients in government hospitals were told to “go in their beds” when they had diarrhea. (12)
In March 2009, British health inspectors reported that poor treatment at one hospital may have killed up to 1,200 people in three years. That’s 1,200 people at just one hospital. (13)
Denied food, water and medicine, patients at Stafford Hospital in Staffordshire were left screaming in agony, drinking from flowerpots and lying helpless in their own waste. Many waited for operations which were repeatedly postponed. (14)
British officials were quick to label the Stafford horror an “isolated incident.” But many health care professionals in England say it is typical. (15) Unfortunately, dissenters have little voice in Britain’s National Health Service. The system is notoriously hostile to whistleblowers.
Take Margaret Haywood, for instance, a nurse of 20 years, who went undercover for the BBC, filming abuse and neglect of elderly patients at Royal Sussex Hospital. In April 2009, British health authorities punished Haywood for going to the press, banning her from practicing nursing. If she had complaints, they told her, she should have made them through proper channels. (16)
In England, whitewashing medical scandals is a bipartisan activity. Conservative and liberal politicians alike defend the National Health Service from all critics.
After a harrowing stay at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Lord Benjamin Mancroft, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, spoke out in Parliament, declaring, “It is a miracle that I am still alive.” He described “filthy” wards that were “never cleaned” and nurses who were “grubby … slipshod, lazy … drunken and promiscuous.” (17)
Fellow Tories denounced Lord Mancroft for defaming British medicine. But his observations may help explain why Royal United Hospital leads Britain in superbug fatalities, having racked up 306 superbug deaths in four years. (18)
Government health care supposedly works better in France. But in August 2003, when temperatures in France soared to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly 15,000 elderly people dropped dead — that is, 15,000 more than the average or expected death rate for that time of year.
Most died in institutions, such as government-run nursing homes, which lacked air conditioning and other basic amenities.
Time magazine reported that deaths from the heat wave in France were “geometrically higher than anywhere else in sunbaked Europe,” thanks to a “chronically underfunded and understaffed elder care system.” (19)
Less money, less care
For 20 years, health care reformers from Edward Kennedy to Hillary Clinton have praised the government-run health systems of Europe and Canada. Obama and his team have taken up the same cry.
A June 1 report from Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers praised European health care and urged Americans to emulate it.
If health care is so abominable in Europe, why did Obama’s economic advisers commend it? Simple. It’s cheaper.
Titled, “The Economic Case for Health Care Reform,” the report noted that six countries — Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Britain and France — spend only 9.6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product on health care, while America spends 15.3 percent. It recommended bringing our health care spending down to European levels through “efficiency improvements in the U.S. healthcare system.” (20)
This is the dirty secret behind the movement for universal health care. Its true purpose is to cut medical care, not increase it.
Every plan put forth by health care “reformers” in the last 20 years features drastic cuts — not increases — in health spending. During her 2008 presidential run, for example, Hillary Clinton vowed to slash medical spending in America by $120 billion per year. (21) Obama says he will cut even more.
With “the right kind of cost-effectiveness,” Obama’s chief economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers told MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” on April 19, “we could take as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system.” (22)
Current annual health spending in America is about $2.5 trillion, so Obama and his team are talking about a 30-percent cut.
It happens that a 1993 study by the Health Care Financing Administration, or HCFA, showed that 27-30 percent of annual Medicare spending goes to end-of-life care for the elderly — specifically, health care during the last year of life. (23)
These figures suggest that Obama could meet his target of a 30-percent cut simply by denying treatment to the sickest and feeblest of America’s elderly — those with a life expectancy of one year or less.
Obama’s special adviser for health policy, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, appears to have something like that in mind.
Obama’s Guru of Death
In a Jan. 31 article in the British medical journal Lancet, Emanuel advised steering health dollars toward the young and fit, specifically those between the ages of 15 and 40, while reducing health spending for the elderly. (24)
Weirdly, Emanuel — along with his co-authors Govind Persad and Alan Wertheimer — made a special point of arguing that age-weighted medical rationing does not violate the rules of political correctness. They wrote:
“Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination … Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years. Treating 65-year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.”
In other words, to put it crudely, if we decided to let the elderly die because we think of them in “stereotypical” terms — say, if we thought of them as useless old dodderers — we would be guilty of “ageism.” However, if we let them die for a “good” reason — for example, because we decide that they have already had their chance at life, and now it’s time to give someone else a chance — then letting them die is perfectly OK.
In Emanuel’s view, letting old people die is not the problem. The problem is finding the right words to justify it.
Words are very important to Emanuel — for example, the words of the Hippocratic Oath. He blames the Hippocratic Oath for much of what he considers wrong in American medicine.
Until the 1970s, all doctors swore this oath upon graduating medical school. It is believed to have been written by the Greek physician Hippocrates of Cos, the father of modern medicine, some 2,400 years ago.
The oath forbids doctors to kill, and expressly forbids administering any “deadly drug” or performing an abortion. For that reason, it has fallen out of favor with modern medical schools, which often use edited versions of the oath, or different oaths entirely, written in modern times.
Still, the tradition of Hippocrates dies hard. Doctors still honor him, and many feel guilty when they violate his precepts.
Dr. Emanuel would like to steer modern medicine away from the Hippocratic tradition. In a June 18, 2008 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he wrote that strict adherence to the Hippocratic Oath caused “overuse” of medical care. (25)
“Medical school education and postgraduate training emphasize thoroughness,” he complained. “When evaluating a patient, students, interns, and residents are trained to identify and praised for and graded on enumerating all possible diagnoses and tests that would confirm or exclude them. The thought is that the more thorough the evaluation, the more intelligent the student or house officer.”
Particularly galling to Emanuel is “the Hippocratic Oath’s admonition to ‘use my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment'” which he says doctors interpret “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others.”
Emanuel would like to see less thoroughness and more cost-cutting. Instead of being “thorough” and “meticulous,” doctors should be “prudent” in assessing how much time, effort and money each patient is worth, for the greater good of society, he argues.
Evidently, President Obama likes what Dr. Emanuel is preaching. In December 2008, Obama made him special adviser for health policy to the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Given Emanuel’s views, it can be expected that age-weighted rationing will figure prominently in Obama’s health care “reforms.” Should Obamacare become the law of this land, many of those 80 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 may be facing a nasty, European-style death.
It is already happening in Oregon
You don’t have to go to Europe to see age-weighted rationing at work. Just take a look at Oregon. Its state-run Oregon Health Plan works very much as our president says Obamacare will work.
Barbara Wagner of Springfield, Oregon was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005. Chemotherapy and radiation put her cancer into remission. But the cancer returned in May 2008.
Wagner’s doctor prescribed Tarceva, a pill which slows cancer growth. There was a good chance it might extend her life by a few weeks or even months.
At age 64, Wagner had two sons, three daughters, fifteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Every moment she could spend with her loved ones was precious.
But Oregon’s health commissars nixed the plan. Her Tarceva treatment would cost $4,000 per month. Wagner was going to die anyway, so why waste the money?
Wagner received a letter stating that the Oregon Health Plan would not approve any treatment for her “that is meant to prolong life, or change the course of the disease…” However, if Wagner opted for physician-assisted suicide, Oregon would be happy to pick up the tab, said the letter.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon and only costs about $50.
“It was horrible,” Wagner told reporters. “To say to someone, we’ll pay for you to die, but not pay for you to live, it’s cruel. Who do they think they are?”
Wagner finally got her Tarceva when the manufacturer Genentech offered to supply it free of charge. She died in October 2008.
A humble, retired schoolbus driver, Wagner touched more people in death than she had in life. Local and national press picked up her story, alerting many Americans to the danger of medical rationing.
One person who remains untouched by her story is Dr. Walter Shaffer, who heads Oregon’s Division of Medical Assistance Programs, which runs the Oregon Health Plan. Regarding the Wagner case, Shaffer told the Eugene Register-Guard, “We can’t cover everything for everyone. Taxpayer dollars are limited for publicly funded programs. We try to come up with policies that provide the most good for the most people.” (26)
Equally unsympathetic is Barack Obama, who views Oregon’s medical rationing system as a model for the nation.
On March 23, 2008, asked to comment on Oregon’s assisted suicide law, candidate Obama told the Mail Tribune of southern Oregon, “I think that the people of Oregon did a service for the country in recognizing that as the population gets older we’ve got to think about issues of end-of-life care.” (27)
The pig in the python
What exactly did Obama mean when he said that “as the population gets older,” Americans need to “think about end-of-life care”?
He was referring to a problem economists have dubbed “the pig in the python.” If a python swallows a pig that is too large, the pig will give the python indigestion every inch of the way down, until it is finally expelled out the rear end.
Think of America as the python. Think of the baby boom as the pig. And think of Obamacare as an enema for the python.
“As the pig’s snout approaches the python’s nether regions,” wrote economist Paul Krugman in The New York Times, “the age distribution of the U.S. as a whole will look like that of Florida today. How will a relatively small number of workers be able to produce enough both to live well themselves and to provide the huge population of retirees with the standard of living it expects?” (28)
To put it another way, the baby boom is large. The generation coming after it is small. Consequently, as the baby boomers retire, a small number of young people will have to support a much larger number of elderly, retired people.
Young people will end up paying enormous taxes to keep the baby boomers alive. They will doubtless resent it. Indeed, they will have a strong economic incentive to look the other way and pretend not to notice while the older generation vanishes into government-run “end-of-life” programs, such as Oregon’s.
The first baby boomer applied for Social Security retirement benefits on Oct. 15, 2007. (29) Over the next 20 years, 80 million more will apply. Their huge numbers are expected to bankrupt the system, forcing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid into collapse.
“I fear that we may have already committed more physical resources to the baby boom generation in its retirement years than our economy has the capacity to deliver,” warned Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on April 21, 2004. “I do not see how we can avoid significant curtailment of the benefits currently promised.” (30)
If Greenspan is correct and we cannot afford medical care for baby boomers, then what will become of those 80 million people? Believe it or not, many elitist policy planners argue that America should essentially cut off their health care and allow them to die. And there is a good chance that the younger generation will accept this solution.
Obama vs. the baby boomers
The Obama administration is consciously fanning the flames of anti-baby-boom sentiment.
On May 12, for example, it released the 2009 Annual Report of the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees. The report warns of imminent economic collapse, and blames the problem on baby boomers.
“[B]ecause the number of people receiving benefits will increase rapidly as the large baby-boom generation retires,” the report explains, the Social Security system will start running in the red as early as 2016, and will totally collapse by 2037. Medicare will go bankrupt in 2017. (31)
What can America do to fend off this catastrophe? Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner – one of the authors of the report – told the New York Times on May 12 that the only way to save Medicare would be to support President Obama’s plan to “control runaway growth in both public and private health care expenditures.” (32)
Note that he said, “both public and private health care expenditures.”
One can understand why the Obama administration would want to cut public health expenditures. After all, if current expenditures are bankrupting the system, it makes sense to cut them.
But why cut private health spending? How will this help keep Medicare afloat?
Private health spending means paying our own money, out of our own pockets, to our own doctors, for our own health care. How could that possibly hurt Medicare? And why would President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner want to stop us from doing it?
The answer is that the more money we spend on our private health care, the healthier we get, and the longer we live. And, perverse as it sounds, that’s financially not good for Obamacare.
Most baby boomers will claim Social Security when they turn 65. Everyone who claims Social Security must enroll in Medicare, under current rules. So the longer we live past 65, the more Social Security and Medicare claims Uncle Sam has to pay. (33)
USA Today summarizes the problem thus: “Social Security’s original retirement age of 65 was set in 1935 when life expectancy was 63. Today, life expectancy is 77 — and, for those who live to 65, life expectancy is 83. The system used to benefit financially from people who paid Social Security taxes but died before collecting any benefits. … The baby boomers who retire in 2008 at age 62 will live an average of 20 more years, according to the Social Security Administration. Today’s workers don’t pay enough Social Security taxes during their careers to cover their lifetime benefits, so baby boom retirements will overwhelm the system unless changes are made.” (34)
Thus, the federal government has an undeniable financial incentive for hoping that as few baby boomers as possible live past their 65th birthdays. Cutting private health care spending would certainly contribute toward that goal.
4 ways of killing
Let’s review what we know. We know that Barack Obama personally endorses at least three different methods of shortening the lives of elderly, disabled and gravely ill people.
The first method – let’s call it the Oregon model – is to pressure them into committing suicide, by cutting off other options.
The second method is to pressure them into accepting palliative or comfort care in place of real care – again, by cutting off other options. Comfort care, remember, is care that helps you feel good while you are dying, but does nothing to prolong your life.
We also know that Obama endorses forced starvation and dehydration, as was famously inflicted upon Terri Schiavo in 2005.
When asked in February 2008 to state his regrets as a politician, candidate Obama said he regretted having voted to allow Terry Schiavo to stay on her feeding tube while her parents pleaded her case in federal court. If he had it to do over, Obama would have voted not to intervene. He would have stood back and allowed Florida officials to go ahead and disconnect Mrs. Schiavo from her feeding tube, before her parents had had a chance to exhaust their legal options. (35)
So now we know that Obama endorses physician-assisted suicide, pressuring people into accepting palliative or comfort care in place of genuine care, and depriving people of food and water until they die.
But there is a fourth way of killing which Obama has not publicly endorsed, at least not yet. It is the cheapest, most efficient way of all: killing by lethal injection. Will doctors be encouraged to administer lethal injections to their patients under Obamacare?
The New Orleans massacre
After Hurricane Katrina, rescue teams found 45 patients dead at Memorial Medical Center. No other New Orleans hospital had yielded so many bodies.
Within days, reports surfaced that hospital staffers had killed many of those patients by lethal injection. Witnesses came forward, including one doctor who said he had fled the hospital rather than take part in the killings.
After a year-long investigation, one doctor and two nurses were arrested for second-degree murder. They were accused of killing four patients with lethal doses of morphine and midazolam.
“There may be more arrests and victims that cannot be mentioned at this time,” announced Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. at a press conference. (36)
The case seemed open and shut. There was no question that some patients had been killed. In fact, several staffers had confessed to the deed, telling their stories anonymously to a sympathetic British newspaper The Mail. (37)
The Mail reported, “Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals. … [S]enior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive. … Euthanasia is illegal in Louisiana, and The Mail on Sunday is protecting the identities of the medical staff …”
One female doctor told The Mail, “I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul.”
At least three witnesses heard Dr. Anna Maria Pou state that she intended to give “lethal doses” to patients. Dr. Pou was the one doctor arrested in the case. (38)
Witnesses saw her carrying syringes and morphine vials into patients’ rooms, accompanied by nurses. After visiting one patient, Pou reportedly said, “I had to give her three doses. She’s fighting.” (39)
Despite the evidence, a state grand jury declined to indict Pou in July 2007. No criminal charges of any kind were pressed against her. She walked free. (40)
Political forces weighed heavily in Dr. Pou’s favor. Throughout the proceedings, local and national press praised her as a hero and accused her prosecutors of grandstanding, publicity-mongering and witch-hunting. Prominent citizens of New Orleans contributed to her legal defense fund. Respected medical authorities warned that Pou’s arrest would have a “chilling effect” on physicians, who might now fear to volunteer during disasters.
The real meaning of comfort care
“I do not believe in euthanasia,” Dr. Pou told Morley Safer on CBS’s “60 Minutes, Aug. 26, 2007, “I don’t think that it’s anyone’s decision to make when a patient dies. However, what I do believe in is comfort care. And that means that we ensure that they do not suffer pain.” (41)
These words may explain why so many doctors, journalists, philanthropists and politicians came flying to Dr. Pou’s defense. They may also explain why she ultimately got off the hook. Pou argued that when she killed those patients, she was giving them “comfort care.”
“Comfort care” is an important concept in 21st-century medicine. If Dr. Pou went to jail for rendering “comfort care,” that would indeed have a chilling effect – not on doctors who volunteer during emergencies, but rather on bureaucrats, politicians and New Age bioethicists who would like to turn “comfort care” into a convenient euphemism for euthanasia.
Recall Barbara Wagner’s horror upon receiving a letter telling her that the Oregon Health Plan would not cover her chemotherapy, but would cover assisted suicide.
“We had no intent to upset her but we do need to point out the options available to her under the Oregon Health Plan,” said Dr. John Sattenspiel, an official of LIPA, the private insurer which administered Wagner’s state health coverage.
Under the Oregon Health Plan, cancer patients who are denied chemotherapy must at least be provided with “comfort care.” Sattenspiel explained to the Eugene Register-Guard that doctor-assisted suicide “could be considered as a palliative or comfort care measure.” (42)
Remember that the next time you hear the words “palliative” or “comfort” care. The hard truth is, in the jargon of 21st-century medicine those words can mean anything from changing your bed pan to killing you by lethal injection.
For promoters of medical rationing, it is essential that people like Dr. Pou be permitted to kill patients through “comfort care.” Few cost-cutting methods are more efficient.
Medical training must “move toward more socially sustainable, cost-effective care,” wrote Obama’s health care guru Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel in the Journal of the American Medical Association of June 18, 2008. An encouraging sign, he wrote, was that medical schools were already moving from the Hippocratic “do everything” approach to the “palliative care” approach. (43)
A June 17 e-mail announcement from the Center to Advance Palliative Care, or CAPC, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York punctuated Emanuel’s point in dollars-and-cents terms. The e-mail said:
“According to a recent study of eight very different hospitals, hospitals saved from $279 to $374 per day per palliative care patient. Savings included significant reductions in pharmacy, laboratory and intensive care costs. This means savings of more than $1.3 million for a 300-bed community hospital and more than $2.5 million for the average academic medical center.” (44)
Given these savings, it is understandable why Obamacare planners take such a keen interest in “comfort care.”
Today we call it Obamacare. In 1993, we called it Hillarycare. A more accurate name would be Rockefellercare.
America’s leading promoter of medical rationing, since the 1980s, has been Democrat Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, better known as Jay Rockefeller. (45) He also happens to be America’s preeminent apostle of “palliative” or “comfort care.”
The Rockefeller clan has long had an interest in using medicine as an instrument of population control. Dynasty founder John D. Rockefeller, the legendary oil tycoon who created Standard Oil, poured money into eugenics projects, designed to purify the human race by preventing undesirables from breeding. He was a member of the American Eugenics Society, founded in 1922 and renamed the Society for the Study of Social Biology in 1973. (46)
In 1969, the Hastings Center in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, received start-up money both from the Rockefeller Foundation and from John D. Rockefeller III personally. “The activities of the Center” included research into “death and dying, behavior control, genetic engineering and counseling, and population control,” writes bioethicist Albert R. Jonsen in his book “The Birth of Bioethics.” (47)
The Hastings Center pioneered “end-of-life” care as we know it today.
John D. (“Jay”) Rockefeller IV has followed in his father’s footsteps, working energetically over many years to promote “palliative” or “comfort” care as a substitute for real care.
The untold story of Hillarycare
Like Obamacare today, the Clinton health plan of 1993 focused on cutting costs by cutting care. Like Obamacare, Hillarycare relied heavily on age-weighted rationing to meet its projected cost-cutting targets. Hillary Clinton gets most of the blame for this plan, but it was Jay Rockefeller’s brainchild from the beginning.
On Jan. 17, 2008, the public interest group Judicial Watch published a memorandum the Clinton Library was forced to release under the Freedom of Information Act. (48)
The 24-page memo shines a spotlight on Hillary’s little-known relationship with America’s mightiest oil and banking dynasty. Dated May 26, 1993, and addressed to “Hillary Rodham Clinton,” the memo comes from Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
The memo lays out a detailed strategy for pushing the “Clinton reform plan” for universal health coverage. In it, Rockefeller snaps orders at Mrs. Clinton in the imperious tones of a man accustomed to obedience.
He instructs Hillary to get tough on critics of the health plan. “Impeach the credibility of opponents,” he writes. Portray them as “perpetrators,” “paid lobbyists” and purveyors of “ideological extremism.” Assign investigators to conduct “opposition research” on them and expose their “lifestyles.” Do not allow them “even one day without scrutiny.”
Regarding the need for a radio and TV advertising campaign, Rockefeller fumes, “Fundraising must begin immediately. I am frankly surprised that I have not been contacted or shown a plan for fundraising and media expenditures.”
Rockefeller plainly viewed Hillary as his subordinate, and the “Clinton reform plan” as his project. And no wonder. The plan we know as Hillarycare was originally Rockefeller’s idea.
“Health care was his major interest”, writes Joshua Green in The Atlantic. “The agony of watching his mother’s lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s had made him a crusader for universal health insurance, and in the years before Bill Clinton was elected he had organized labor and health interests toward that goal.” (49)
Many Democrats urged Jay Rockefeller to run for president in 1992, but he declined and backed the Clintons instead. (50)
On Jan. 25, 1993 – only five days after his inauguration – Bill Clinton appointed Hillary chairman of his National Task Force on Health Care Reform. Prior to that, she had no history as a health care reformer. In order to carry out the assignment, she had to make a crash study, “bearing down and learning the mind-numbing intricacies of the health-care system,” The Atlantic reports. (51)
More importantly, Hillary relied on the guiding hand of Jay Rockefeller, who watched closely over the Task Force. In their book “The System,” Haynes Johnson and David S. Broder note that Sen. Rockefeller was “largely responsible for creating the coalition of pro-reform groups to campaign for passage of the Clinton plan and had opened his mansion in Rock Creek Park … to them for their first strategy meeting.” (52)
Rockefeller’s health dictatorship
Today, Jay Rockefeller is leading the charge for Obamacare. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, he is currently pushing a bill that will strip Congress of all authority over federal health spending. Henceforth, such decisions will be made by a secretive committee of “experts,” modeled after the Federal Reserve Board, if Rockefeller gets his way. (53)
Much as the Fed controls America’s monetary policy, Rockefeller’s MedPAC would control federal health spending.
The current version of MedPAC (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) is a panel of experts which advises Congress on Medicare spending. The new MedPAC – nicknamed “MedPAC on Steroids” – will no longer advise Congress. It will tell Congress what to do. (54)
“It’s time to move MedPAC into the executive branch and away from the power of special interests. Congress has proven itself to be inefficient and inconsistent in making decisions about provider reimbursement under Medicare. … Congress should leave the reimbursement rules to the independent health care experts.” (55)
During a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on March 10, Rockefeller had given a preview of his plan. He told fellow senators:
“I think one of the major problems you have in your $700 billion of wasted money every year is the fact that there are too many political judgments made because there’s too much lobbying and Congress can – you know, unless they’re all health care experts, can fall victim to that. So the idea of MedPAC having the power to set those fees, reimbursement fees, to me is enormously attractive, takes politics right out of it and takes Congress right out of it.” (56)
Rockefeller’s May 20 press release said that the new law would “reform MedPAC as an executive agency modeled after the Federal Reserve Board.” Its mission would be “to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries get the right care at the right time.”
Of course, everyone wants people to get “the right care at the right time.” But, given Rockefeller’s persistent advocacy of medical rationing through the years, his idea of “the right care at the right time” may well mean no care at all for a great many people, just when they need it most.
President Obama officially endorsed Rockefeller’s “MedPAC on Steroids” proposal on June 2. (57)
Stop the killing
When that heat wave killed 15,000 elderly people in France in 2003, the French did considerable soul-searching. Many experts concluded that disintegrating family values had contributed to the catastrophe.
“The French family structure is more dislocated than elsewhere in Europe, and prevailing social attitudes hold that once older people are closed behind their apartment doors or in nursing homes, they are someone else’s problem,” French Red Cross official Stéphane Mantion told Time magazine. (58)
However, Mantion noted that far fewer deaths occurred in the south of France. Nice, Marseilles, Toulouse and other southern towns suffered only a fraction of the north’s death rate. Mantion opined that the lower death rate was due to “Latin attitudes” that still prevailed in southern France. People in those areas were old-fashioned; they still believed that old people were worth something; they still loved, cherished, respected and cared for their elders.
And, wonder of wonders, their elders lived through the heat wave.
Saving them did not require trillions of dollars in government programs. It didn’t take MedPAC on Steroids. It didn’t take Obamacare. It didn’t take blue-ribbon panels of Rockefeller-funded experts jibber-jabbering into microphones about the benefits of “comfort care.”
All it took was love.
American hospitals have not yet sunk to the level of their Canadian and European counterparts, but this nation is sliding fast down that slippery slope.
On one level, the health care reformers may be correct. Perhaps we can learn a few things from the French – not the northern French, with their “chronically under-funded and understaffed elder care system” – but the southern French, with their “Latin attitudes.”
And while we’re at it, we might take a fresh look at another old-fashioned Mediterranean institution – the Hippocratic Oath.
The answers to America’s health care problems may not be as complicated as Obama’s bean counters have made them out to be.
Maybe the first step in solving those problems is to stop listening to people like Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Maybe then we will finally be able to think clearly.
We may just discover that we are closer than we realize to returning American medicine to its true purpose – saving lives, rather than taking them.
[EXCERPT] “MEDICAL MURDER: Why Obamacare Could Result in the Early Deaths of Millions of Baby Boomers,” WorldNetDaily.com, August 5, 2009
[EXCERPT] “Obamacare to be 1 Big `Death Panel’: Just as in U.K., Government System Will Lead to Early Demise of Seniors,” WorldNetDaily.com, August 20, 2009
See reader comments at FreeRepublic:
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