08.31.2009 0

Rationing By Any Other Name…

  • On: 09/18/2009 09:25:09
  • In: Health Care
  • by Victor Morawski

    We critics of ObamaCare may have been doing ourselves a bit of a disservice over the past few months by focusing on health care “rationing.”

    Yes, “rationing” best describes some of the most disconcerting effects of government run health care, and it strikes a chord with the general public. But it is rarely used by our duplicitous opponents, leaving the door open for them to argue that we are just raising a general alarm over nothing.

    But rationing does not have to be called such to be rationing. So, perhaps, we should shift our focus away from language that we prefer and toward illuminating language used by our opponents when, in cloaked words, they discuss what we all know is nothing more (and unfortunately, nothing less) than cold and calculated government rationing.

    Ezekiel Emanuel heads the Federal Council of Comparative Effectiveness Research, whose job it is, we are told, to save the government money. The GLG Group observes that, “The Commonwealth Fund…has estimated that establishing a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research could save up to $634 billion between 2010 and 2020…” And just how would it do this?

    Well, in sum total, “effectiveness” in this context is merely another term for rationing. Emanuel makes it clear that the “effectiveness” of a new drug, device or procedure is not measured by whether it works to heal a patient and save lives, but by whether it is effective relative to its cost. A drug, for instance, that adds half a year of life on average to cancer patients, but costs the Obama government $50,000 cost would not receive government backing. It’s all a matter of a cold and heartless cost-benefit analysis.

    Astute readers may notice that in real life, Ezekiel Emanuel now actually heads an organization that has essentially the same function as his envisioned Institute for Technology and Outcomes Assessment, which we discussed last week. From this we could glean that the word “outcomes” is another buzz word used for rationing. Only those health services whose “outcomes” justify their costs are worth Big Government’s time and money. So, in short, under Obamacare, you and your loved ones are reduced to mere dollar figures

    Other words occur when members of the Obama administration, or the President himself, talk about eliminating “waste” and “inefficiency” as Obama did last week and on July 22: “We also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare on an annual basis.”

    Contrary to White House denials to the effect that this board, “will not be authorized to propose or implement Medicare changes that ration care or affect benefits, eligibility or beneficiary access to care,” the CBO has recommended that the Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC) have exactly those powers in order to “improve the efficiency of the health care system.” And improving “efficiency” again means weighing costs over benefits in ways that produce rationed care.

    The fact is, as Gertrude Stein opined, “A rose by any other name is still a rose.” And government “rationing” by any other name is still a death warrant for the elderly and infirm.

    Victor Morawski is a professor at Coppin University along with a Liberty Features Syndicated Writer.

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