Congressional Battle Resumes Over Medicare Rationing, Involuntary Euthanasia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 10, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressional Battle Resumes Over Medicare Rationing, Involuntary Euthanasia Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 10,

Washington, DC ( — Members of the Senate are headed back to Capitol Hill next week and a battle over Medicare rationing will be on the front burner. One leading pro-life group has been lobbying Congress to prevent the denial of lifesaving medical treatment by refusing to allow seniors to supplement their health care.

The National Right to Life considers government-imposed denial of lifesaving medical care a form of involuntary euthanasia.

Since Medicare is mandatory health insurance for older Americans, the government must not limit the ability of senior citizens to use their own money, the group contends, if they want to get unrationed insurance for lifesaving medical treatment under Medicare.

Despite the concerns, Democrats, and some Republicans, in the Senate appear ready to propose cuts in the private Medicare Advantage program NRLC supports. The pro-life group was instrumental in creating the plan in the 1990s to help those who may face treatment cuts.

The pro-life group has warned senators that it will score any vote on the Medicare program in its roll call of pro-life votes because it opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia just as much as it opposes abortion.

Burke Balch, director of the National Right to Life Committee’s center for medical ethics, told The Hill that the group will stand on principle even though some key lawmakers who oppose abortion may ruin their perfect voting records with the group.

“We are a single-issue organization,” he said. “No issue is more important than this because, as we see it, the lives of literally millions of people are at stake here.”

The group further explains its opposition to cuts in the program on its web site.

"In order to protect senior citizens’ lives, we must ensure their right to get unrationed medical care under Medicare," NRLC says. "We must not prohibit older Americans from adding their own money, if they wish, to get unrationed insurance – which only the private fee-for-service alternative gives them."

The group talks about upcoming problems for Medicare with the retiring baby boomer generation and says "government payments per beneficiary will not be able to keep up with medical inflation."

"If the funds available for health care for senior citizens from all sources are so limited, the only possible result will be rationing," it explains. "Since senior citizens are required to participate in Medicare, this would amount to government-imposed involuntary euthanasia [without maintaining the private Medicare Advantage program]."