Tag Archives: American Medical Association

Will there be death panels in Obamacare?

Shovel ready Obamacare

Despite House Speaker John Boehner’s huffing and puffing, Obamacare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) is a reality.

The Nov. 6, 2012, elections reelected Obama to the White House and not only retained, but added to the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. Even before that, the Supreme Court in a 5:4 decision, already had ruled that Obamacare is constitutional and that the requirement of Americans to obtain health insurance or be penalized is merely a tax.

So, unless you’re in deep denial, Obamacare is a reality. FOTM has published posts on the Obamacare taxes coming our way. But what about another grave concern of ours — that of Obamacare death panels? Is the notion mere political hyperbole, or is it a real threat?

To answer that question, let’s look at two pieces of information.

ONE

The first is a statement by former president of the American Medical Association (AMA) Dr. Donald Palmisano, that Obamacare death panels are not a fantasy, but that such rationing panels pose an “immediate danger to seniors.”

In a Daily Caller column, Palmisano wrote that Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPAB), tasked with keeping Medicare expenses under control, would have little oversight as they deal with the disproportionate cost burden from elderly Americans with greater medical needs. The result “will essentially mean rationed care” for America’s elderly.

Palmisano wrote: “The 15 officials who will make up the board will not only be empowered to make what is expected to be billions of dollars’ worth of cuts to Medicare every year, but will be required to do so when spending exceeds targeted rates. IPAB’s recommended cuts will become law unless a supermajority in Congress vetoes the board’s proposal and creates its own cost-cutting proposal of equal size — an unlikely scenario even in the most harmonious of political times.”

Although the panels are expected to focus on cutting payments to the doctors themselves, Palmisano said that Medicaid providers are already being sucked dry, and warned that a more brutal form of rationing, using adjustments based on “quality of life” as already practiced in Great Britain, was likely in store.

“IPAB may eventually be allowed to resort to Great Britain’s chosen rationing methods and refuse to provide certain effective treatments to patients who need them based on costs and patients’ remaining ‘quality adjusted life years.’ Though the law currently forbids IPAB from engaging in such behavior, there is little reason to believe these rules won’t be changed — or at least stretched — down the road as costs continue to balloon and political dynamics change,” he wrote.

Palmisano warned that unless Congress undertakes a full repeal of Obamacare instead of piecemeal efforts, the most dangerous parts of the law, such as IPAB, will not be excised: “[I]f Congress misses what could be its last chance to eliminate IPAB — one of the most egregious aspects of the law — it will be doing a disservice to seniors who need good medical care now and in the near-term future.”

TWO

In his column, Palmisano warned that Obamacare’s IPAB “may eventually be allowed to resort to Great Britain’s chosen rationing methods and refuse to provide certain effective treatments to patients who need them based on costs and patients’ remaining “quality adjusted life years.” Here’s a recent shocking example of “death panels” in the UK — the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Brad Mattes, the executive director of the pro-life educational group Life Issues Institute, writes for LifeNews.com, Dec. 7, 2012:

There’s no crystal ball where we can see our future of national healthcare under Obamacare. However, there’s a very close model in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). In fact, while we ponder the future of death panels and rationing of healthcare in the US, the UK is living it—and in many cases dying from it. So we can look at the NHS to see our future under Obamacare. [...]

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) in the UK is a healthcare service that’s used when death is imminent, and it incorporates heavy doses of morphine to deal with what would otherwise be uncontrolled pain. It may seem to be a compassionate and empathetic notion, until you realize the system is being abused to serve as a fast-track pipeline to euthanize the most vulnerable patients.

What began as an effort to relieve suffering is now ending lives at a frightening pace. Here’s how the numbers play out:

  • Only 2–5% of patients require this level of sedation to control pain.
  • Yet, the LCP has been involved in the deaths of 130,000 patients who were elderly, terminally ill, or seriously ill but not dying. This is 29% of the 450,000 NHS deaths each year.
  • At many hospitals, over 50% of the patients who had died had been put on LCP.

[...] Assumptions are being made about what treatments are considered “futile” [...] as a way to save money by limiting care to those who need it most.

The evidence is disturbing. Cancer patients are being put at the back of the line for routine services like x-rays and antibiotics. Surgeries for hip replacements, cataracts, and varicose veins are being rationed. Doctors are resorting to prescribing drinking water for neglected elderly patients to stop them from dying of thirst in the hospital. This method of dehydration and starvation has been used to end the lives of babies in a neonatal unit. There are numerous cases where patients are being killed who would otherwise be able to recover and live if only given proper treatment and essential nourishment.

When you follow the money trail, it leads to over $19 million that has been given as awards to trusts for hospitals that have hit their targeted number of patients put into LCP. It’s simply a fact that the centralization of healthcare will inevitably lead to dangerous rationing of care and perilous decisions surrounding quality of life.

Don’t believe for a moment that this couldn’t happen to you in America. The US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare, and the re-election of Barack Obama ensures this government-controlled behemoth will soon be breathing down your neck. It’ll likely be even worse considering proponents of Obamacare admitted from the beginning that the government isn’t close to funding all the healthcare expectations of Americans.

If you don’t want faceless government bureaucrats make life-or-death decisions for you, Mattes urges us to do two things:

  1. Take a firm stand against Obamacare by warning others about the real dangers of government-controlled healthcare.
  2. Make sure your family know your wishes by creating a will to live.

~Eowyn

Doctors are Firing Patients for Refusing Vaccination

Doctors get rid of patients for missed appointments, rude or threatening behavior, and nonpayment of bills. More and more, there is a new reason.

American babies are now given 25 different vaccines in the first 15 months of life, including for Hepatitis B, which is a sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Some parents opt out of some or all of those shots. For that, they now risk being dismissed as a patient by their physician.

Anita Manning reports for USA Today, Nov. 14, 2011, that a survey of 900 pediatricians in 9 Midwestern states found that 21% have discharged families for refusing vaccination. About 60% said one in 20 families in their practice refused or requested altered vaccine schedules; 4% said a majority did.

The survey findings were reported last month at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, by Thomas Tryon, a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.

Vaccine safety has been the subject of escalating controversy in recent years as the number of vaccines recommended for children increases and the diseases they prevent fade into the far reaches of memory. Some parents avoid giving their children some or all vaccines because they believe vaccines are linked to rising rates of developmental disorders such as autism or may cause other health problems.

Pediatricians spend a lot of time reassuring parents and referring them to information on the safety and value of vaccines, Tryon says, but when parents persist, doctors have to consider the safety of their other patients.

For years, Tryon says, he was flexible with parents concerned about vaccines. What changed his mind was a family that refused to vaccinate their toddler, then had a second baby. Both got pertussis, or whooping cough, which can be prevented by the DTaP (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) vaccine. “In an 18-month-old, pertussis is a bad disease,” he says. “In a 6-week-old, it could be fatal.”

He was frustrated not only because the illnesses could have been avoided, but also because the family had “exposed everyone in my waiting room.” At that point, he says, “I said I can’t take this risk anymore.”

He instituted a policy that if, after counseling and discussing scientific evidence on vaccine safety and protective benefits, parents still refuse vaccines, they’re out. He notifies them by mail and gives them 30 days to find a new pediatrician.

The sheer number of vaccines given to children — 25 shots in the first 15 months of life — has caused some parents to worry that so much stimulation could overwhelm young immune systems. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says that studies have shown those fears to be groundless, and that spreading out shots over a longer period of time leaves kids needlessly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as polio or measles.

Many doctors see the issue as a matter of public health and make their policies clear to new patients at the outset.

Pediatrician Raymond Cattaneo of Kansas City, Mo., has a strict immunization policy — no refusals and no alternative schedules.  Anything else, Cattaneo says, would be “allowing patients to decide something that was not right.” Although the policy met with some resistance, with a few patients being very upset — one family even called a local station, “overwhelmingly we were supported.”

But Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of the National Vaccine Information Center that supports the right to refuse vaccines, says that patients who disagree often feel demonized. “It’s hard to find someone who will talk now. They’re vilified and harassed.”

On the center’s website, there is a “vaccine freedom wall,” where parents post stories of “being thrown out of doctor’s offices or being harassed for trying to make informed decisions about vaccines,” she says. A Facebook page, Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children, has more than 7,300 fans.

New York City pediatrician Lawrence Pavelsky works with families who have a child with chronic illness, to improve their health without pharmaceuticals. When patients come to him, he says, “we talk about nutrition, sleep, development, vaccines, ways in which kids get sick and why and how to get them well if they are sick” without using vaccines or medication. He believes doctors who vaccinate children are working from information that is simply wrong.

“I did my own research,” he says. “Over the last 14 years, I have found that some or even a majority of the information I was taught in medical school was either false, incomplete or had flawed reasoning.”

The American Medical Association has guidelines for when it’s appropriate for a doctor to dismiss a patient. A doctor cannot legally dismiss a patient for race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, HIV status or other category protected under anti-discrimination laws, or in the middle of ongoing care. The doctor must give written notice and continue care for a period, usually 30 days, during which the patient can find a new doctor.

~Eowyn