Medicare Drug Benefit Opens the Door to Involuntary Euthanasia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 21, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC


Medicare Drug Benefit Opens the Door to Involuntary Euthanasia

by Jill Boughton Staff Writer
June 21, 2003

Washington, DC ( — The news has been full of the Republican proposal to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. What Americans might not realize is that the bill as currently drafted
could lead to involuntary euthanasia through the rationing of
health care.

Everyone knows pharmaceutical prices continue to skyrocket.
Exciting new medicines can treat illnesses that used to have an
automatic death sentence, but these medicines come with such a
high price tag that the government can’ t possibly make them
available to everyone in the Baby Boom generation without a
mammoth tax raise. If drugs are rationed, what chance is there
that they will be available to senior citizens?

National Right to Life has consistently sounded the alarm about
the dangers of rationing and managed care. In 1997, heeding these
concerns, Congress gave older Americans the opportunity to use
their own money to join private "fee-for-service" insurance
plans. Just as most people set aside money to supplement Social
Security when they retire, such insurance plans assure that
senior citizens can choose their own doctors and make their own
decisions about whether a given treatment is "futile."

However, the prescription drug benefit in the current draft of
Medicare legislation has no such "escape clause" permitting
Americans to buy additional drug coverage at their own expense.
Although private plans could offer such an unmanaged benefit, they would be at an unfair advantage trying to compete with the
70% subsidy involved in the government’s managed care plan.
Individuals purchasing such plans would still be charged for
Medicare, effectively a double taxation.

Pro-life Republican Senators are urged to communicate these
concerns to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist so the legislation
(S1, HR 2473) can be altered before it’s too late.

"Older Americans must remain free to spend their own money to
save their own lives," says Jenny Nolan of the medical ethics
department of National Right to Life.