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Obama Advisor, Health Care Architect, Criticized as Backing Rationing for Disabled

by Steven Ertelt | WASHINGTON, DC | LIFENEWS.COM | 8/4/09 9:00 AM

Bioethics

Obama Advisor, Health Care Architect, Criticized as Backing Rationing for Disabled

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 4
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) – Most Americans have probably never heard the name Ezekiel Emanuel, but he could have the power to shape the health care landscape for the disabled. Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is an Obama advisor and a chief architect of the Congressional health care plan.

Emanuel is the health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

One respected pro-life advocate says Americans should be worried because Emanuel appeared to support rationing health care for disabled Americans. That could lead to euthanasia.

Bradley Mattes, the director of Life Issues Institute, says Emanuel was quoted in 1996 saying medical benefits of a government-controlled healthcare plan would not be given to “individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.”

Emanuel clarified his stance by adding, “An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

As Mattes says, "If you don’t think the healthcare plan of Barack Obama and the leaders in Congress will result in widespread rationing of medical services," then he urges Americans to pay attention to Emanuel.

"So who else will be killed by medical neglect under such a health plan? It will likely be patients with Down syndrome, Parkinson’s or one of many other debilitating illnesses," Mattes continues.

He points to more recent comments from Emanuel defending discrimination against senior citizens in an article that appeared in the January 31, 2009 issue of the medical journal Lancet.

“Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious [offensive] discrimination," Emanuel wrote.

As Mattes says in an email to LifeNews.com, "The ‘allocation’ he’s talking about is healthcare services — many of which are critical to sustaining life or at the very least, a better quality of life. We’re talking about everything from life-saving bypass surgery to joint replacements."

Chuck Colson, a pro-life syndicated columnist, has also noticed Emanuel’s quotes and goes further in complaining about them.

"I’m sorry, but this is the same logic the Nazis used to exterminate the physically and mentally handicapped," Colson.

He says Emanuel’s view forgets the worth and dignity of human beings — "a dignity that is not derived from the majority’s opinion (or a government definition) about the quality of their life or their contribution to society."

He worries Emanuel’s vision of health care allows "every decision about the allocation of health care-and indeed about any area of life" to become "an occasion for the young and strong to impose their will on the old and weak."

Betsy McCaughey, a former Lt. Governor of New York State and a prominent patient advocate, has also sounded the alarm on Emanuel.

"Emanuel bluntly admits that the cuts [rationing in health care] will not be pain-free," she said.

She points out that Emanuel wrote that health care cost savings will require changing how doctors think about their patients.

Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others," Emanuel complained in the June 2008 edition of JAMA.

"Yes, that’s what patients want their doctors to do. But Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else," McCaughey says in an editorial. "Many doctors are horrified by this notion; they’ll tell you that a doctor’s job is to achieve social justice one patient at a time."

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