Health Care Rationing for Seniors is Another Problem in New Obama Plan

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 22, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Health Care Rationing for Seniors is Another Problem in New Obama Plan

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 22
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The new health care plan President Barack Obama released today contains massive abortion funding, but a top pro-life attorney who monitors bioethics issues says it presents other concerns. The changes Obama proposes to the Senate health care bill also promote rationing.

Burke Balch, an attorney who is the director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, explained the problems to

"The Obama health care proposal issued this morning would take away from America’s senior citizens their current right to add their own money on top of the government Medicare contribution to get health insurance less likely to deny treatment through tightly controlled managed care," Balch said.

"It would do so even as it cuts the government contribution to Medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars," he adds.

Under “Title III . . . Guaranteeing Benefits for Seniors by Ending Overpayments to Insurance Companies,” Balch notes that the Obama proposal talks about Medicare Advantage plans — the alternative that now allows older Americans, if they wish, to pay more to get insurance less likely to ration treatment.

The Obama plan says Medicare Advantage plans will “be prohibited from charging seniors more than they would pay for services delivered under the traditional Medicare program.”

Balch responds: "Thus, older Americans would be prohibited by law from making up the Medicare shortfall by using their own money to save their own lives."

"This means that, even as more and more doctors and other health care providers are leaving the Medicare program because of low government reimbursement rates – rates that under the Obama bill will decline still more in comparison to medical inflation – senior citizens will have nowhere to turn," the pro-life attorney explains. "Their only option will be tightly managed plans that provide less and less treatment."

The Obama proposal then goes on to claim that “all ideas that ration care…will be banned."

Balch calls that "genuine chutzpah" because the Obama plan makes that claim "even as it imposes what will be ever-increasing rationing on senior citizens."

The Senate health care bill already contains provisions that threaten to ration lifesaving medical treatment for seniors.

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.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life Committee –

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