August 18, 2009
NYC Letter: "I'm Not Ready To Die" Redux
Day 210 of CHOPE
Not ready to die?
If you are a veteran, the government thinks you probably are.
THE DEATH BOOK FOR VETERANS
Ex-soldiers Don't Need To Be Told They're A Burden To Society.
OP-ED August 18, 2009 (WSJ) - If President Obama wants to better understand why America's discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.
Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."
Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.
"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."
... This hurry-up-and-die message is clear and unconscionable. Worse, a July 2009 VA directive instructs its primary care physicians to raise advance care planning with all VA patients and to refer them to "Your Life, Your Choices." Not just those of advanced age and debilitated condition—all patients.
... If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on "Your Life, Your Choices." He should make sure in the future that VA decisions are guided by values that treat the lives of our veterans as gifts, not burdens.
Team Barry has already shown its disdain for veterans (and here). Why are we not surprised that Democrat hostility toward the military should manifest itself as end-of-life counseling with an afterlife bias?
Thanks for your service. Now be a patriot and remove yourself from the entitlement rolls.
UPDATE 08.27.09: The Obama administration pushes end-of-life counseling on veterans -- what could go wrong?
CHARLESTON August 27, 2009 (LAT/AP) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs now estimates that more than 600 veterans erroneously received letters telling them they had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said Thursday.
As a result of the panic the letters caused, the agency plans to create a more rigorous screening process for its notification letters and is offering to reimburse veterans for medical expenses incurred as a result of the letters.
"That's the least they can do," said former Air Force reservist Gale Reid in Montgomery, Ala. She racked up more than $3,000 in bills for medical tests last week to get a second opinion. Her civilian doctor concluded she did not have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis] is a rapidly progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling muscles and typically kills people within five years.
Since acknowledging the mistake, the VA has increased its estimate on the number of veterans who received the letters in error. Earlier this week, it refuted a Gulf War veterans group's estimate of 1,200, saying the agency had been contacted by fewer than 10 veterans who had been wrongly notified.
We're completely confident Obamacare
will be just this good.