Senate Health Care Bill Contains Rationing Provisions, Pro-Life Group Warns

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Health Care Bill Contains Rationing Provisions, Pro-Life Group Warns

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 24
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The health care bill that Senate leader Harry Reid introduced, and that the chamber will begin debating next week, contains massive abortion funding. But a leading pro-life group says the measure also contains provisions that threaten to ration lifesaving medical treatment for seniors.

The National Right to Life Committee released to its analysis of the Reid health care bill.

The group says if senior citizens’ ability to use their own money, if they choose, to avoid involuntary denial of medical treatment under Medicare could be severely limited.

NRLC says state commissioners of the new health insurance exchanges created by the bill would be given significant power. They could deny people who are trying to obtain policies in the exchange the option of choosing health plans less likely to deny treatment, by limiting what they would be allowed to pay for such policies.

National Right to Life also weighs in on the "death panels" debate that received intense media coverage this summer when the House bill was under scrutiny.

The panels would encourage patients to agree to reject treatment as a way of saving costs.

NRLC indicates the Senate avoided including the "advance care planning" provisions still in the House bill. Instead, it has sought to achieve a similar result under a different name: under the title "Shared Decisionmaking," the bill funds and promotes "patient decision aids" to "help" patients make treatment decisions.

The Senate bill also establishes a Medicare Advisory Board to force Medicare payments below the rate of medical inflation.

Burke Balch, an attorney who is the director of the NRLC medical ethics department, commented to on the problematic provisions.

"Since its inception, the pro-life movement has been as concerned with protecting the lives of older people and people with disabilities from euthanasia, including the involuntary denial of treatment, food, and fluids necessary to prevent death, as it has been dedicated to protecting unborn children from abortion," he said.

"Sen. Reid’s bill contains multiple provisions that threaten these lives," Balch said.

"The Reid Bill contains important elements that would greatly impact the ability of patients to receive unrationed medical care," he explained.

"These elements, combined with inadequate funding – a scheme of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ under which half of the funding comes from cuts in Medicare spending — would result in rationing life-saving treatment for senior citizens," he concluded.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life Committee –

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