Obama Administration Considers Pro-Euthanasia British-Style Health Care

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 21, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama Administration Considers Pro-Euthanasia British-Style Health Care

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 21
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The new administration of president Barack Obama is still putting up nameplates on walls and staff members are learning how to use their computers. But some watchdogs are concerned that the administration is already full steam ahead with a plan that could lead to assisted suicide, euthanasia and health care rationing.

Americans are familiar with the problems that accompany the British-style system of health care — where costs outweigh the benefit of patients.

Patients see waiting lists and face pressured to go to Europe for an assisted suicide rather than receiving appropriate medical care. Medical providers use cost-analysis to determine if patients get the latest drugs or treatment.

Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has penned a new Wall Street Journal column saying the Obama administration plans to pursue the same thing here.

"In Britain, a government agency evaluates new medical products for their "cost effectiveness" before citizens can get access to them," he explains. "The agency has concluded that $45,000 is the most worth paying for products that extend a person’s life by one ‘quality-adjusted’ year. By their calculus, a year combating cancer is worth less than a year in perfect health."

"Here in the U.S., President-elect Barack Obama and House Democrats embrace the creation of a similar ‘comparative effectiveness’ entity that will do research on drugs and medical devices. They claim that they don’t want this to morph into a British-style agency that restricts access to medical products based on narrow cost criteria, but provisions tucked into the fiscal stimulus bill betray their real intentions," Gottlieb continues.

The plan calls for spending $1.1 billion of the $825 billion stimulus package to compare different drugs and devices to "save money and lives."

Report language accompanying the House stimulus bill says that "more expensive" medical products "will no longer be prescribed." The House bill also suggests that the new research should be used to create "guidelines" to direct doctors’ treatment of difficult, high-cost medical problems.

Gottlieb complains, "The bill gives incoming Health Secretary Tom Daschle wide discretion to set priorities, and he’s long advocated a U.S. approach modeled on the British [system]."

"Such calculations can’t account for all the variation in disease and patient preference that drive medical decisions. So it’s no surprise that in Britain there’s vocal dissent against NICE constraints, especially among cancer patients who are denied many effective new drugs that, for now, are widely prescribed in the U.S," he says.

Bioethicist Wesley J. Smith says this kind of system invites the futile care theory where patients whose lives are declared too far gone no longer receive lifesaving medical treatment.

"When I was in the UK in the wake of Terri Schiavo, advocating for Leslie Burke’s right to have a feeding tube when the time came that he could no longer swallow–Burke has a degenerative neurological disease akin to a slow motion Lou Gehrig’s and he sued to make sure he wouldn’t be dehydrated," Smith tells of one case.

Smith says British medical officials filed legal briefs against Burke.

"It wanted total control by the doctors over whether he lived or died when he became totally disabled based on quality of life/resource standards. Horrible, just horrible," he says.

"I don’t think the American people will yet accept such a program here — if they know about it," he says.

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