Friday, August 14, 2009

Oregon's Death Panels

From MAInfo (modified)

The powerful story of Barbara Wagner demonstrates why this discussion is of utmost importance. When Barbara’s lung cancer reappeared during the spring of 2008 her oncologist recommended aggressive treatment with Tarceva, a new chemotherapy. However, Oregon’s state run health plan denied the potentially life altering drug because they did not feel it was "cost-effective." Instead, the State plan offered to pay for either hospice care or physician-assisted suicide.

In stunned disbelief you may ask, "How can this be? This happens in Europe. I’ve heard stories of Britain’s National Health Service delaying intervention until the patient dies or reports of physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands. But in America?"

The answer is simple. Oregon state officials controlled the process of healthcare decision-making—not Barbara and her physician. Chemotherapy would cost the state $4,000 every month she remained alive; the drugs for physician-assisted suicide held a one-time expense of less than $100. Barbara’s treatment plan boiled down to accounting. To cover chemotherapy state policy demanded a five percent patient survival rate at five years. As a new drug, Tarceva did not meet this dispassionate criterion. To Oregon, Barbara was no longer a patient; she had become a "negative economic unit."

In 1994 Barbara’s state established the Oregon Health Plan to give its working poor access to basic healthcare while limiting costs by "prioritizing care." In 1997 Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide to offer "death with dignity" to patients who chose to die without further medical treatment. In the end, the State secured the power to ration healthcare in order to control its financial risk, even if that meant replacing a patient’s chance to live with the choice of how to die.

When queried about withholding Barbara’s treatment, Dr. Walter Shaffer, a spokesman for Oregon’s Division of Medical Assistance Programs, explained the policy this way, "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."

Dr. Som Saha, chairman of the commission that sets policy for the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon's Death Panel, echoed Shaffer, "If we invest thousands and thousands of dollars in one person's days to weeks, we are taking away those dollars from someone [else]."

If you think this can't happen in America, think again. The "Death Panel" model is alive and well in Oregon, and will soon be nation wide.

This, my friends, is "liberal compassion."


Larry Durham August 14, 2009 at 11:15 AM  

Oh yes, the death panel is an option elitist libs are clamoring for. That is until it's their life saving procedure that's deemed "too costly".

Steve Harkonnen August 14, 2009 at 12:18 PM  

Occasionally I'll stop by someone's blog who posted a comment over at Z's blog....nice one you have here, thanks for posting this story because it's the first I've heard of it.

Always On Watch August 14, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

I know of a case of doctors at a hospital here in Northern Virginia discontinuing treatment for a boy with meningitis. He was about 13 years old at the time.

Well, the boy survived and recovered. He walks, talks, attends classes, swims (certified as a life guard), etc.

The docs at the hospital proclaimed the boy's recovery a miracle, a word not tossed around here in secular Northern Virginia.

Doctors are not gods, neither are insurance companies. They make mistakes in predicting life span and recoveries.

Furthermore, all the insurance companies care about is the bottom line. I myself have been denied treatment following an injury from a car accident because my insurance policy wouldn't cover that treatment. Interestingly, the treatment I'm speaking of is covered by other insurance policies issued by the same company (Blue Cross/Blue Shield). Oh, and my age at the time of the treatment (I raped my savings account), and the treatment worked.

Opus #6 August 14, 2009 at 3:02 PM  

Thanks so much for the link, and getting the word out. I am following your excellent blog now.

Bungalow Bill August 14, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

This is a very real story that happened in America. It should be enough to wake up the other 30 some percent of Americans that think Obamacare is good.

LSP August 14, 2009 at 6:47 PM  

I had no idea that Oregon was killing old people.

What wickedness - when did it begin?

WoFat August 14, 2009 at 8:24 PM  

I'm 66 years old and have a bad heart. But, do you think I'm concerned? Aiiiiiiieeeeeeeee!

Opus #6 August 14, 2009 at 11:09 PM  

Miss T.C., You are on my blogroll now as well. Thank you.

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