Great Moments in Socialized Medicine
Oregon is, according to an editorial in the Oregonian newspaper, "the only state that both allows assisted suicide and tries to ration health care." This embarrassed the state when 64-year-old Barbara Wagner got sick with lung cancer and the state essentially said to her, Have you considered suicide, lady?:
After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that would cost $4,000 a month, the newspaper reported, "Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn't cover the treatment, but that it would cover palliative, or comfort, care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide."
The Oregonian editorial explains that the decision to deny coverage for the drug was based on a policy of disapproving payment "for treatment that doesn't provide at least a 5 percent chance of survival after five years." The paper does not fault the state for this decision:
In Wagner's case, administrators of the Oregon Health Plan had to make a difficult call. But that's what they do every day in performing the tough, thankless job of rationing government-paid health care to the needy.
What's unacceptable, however, is that Wagner's rejection letter included the offer of payment for doctor-assisted death. Such notification creates at least the appearance of an ethical conflict: state encouragement of dying as a cost-saving measure.
The editorial notes that, the rejection of the $4,000-a-month drug notwithstanding, taxpayers have "paid thousands of dollars over the years for Wagner's cancer care, and . . . will continue to do so."
Unless, of course, she chooses suicide instead--an option that would still be open to her whether the state made the point explicitly or not. The Oregonian is troubled by the "appearance of an ethical conflict" when the state spells out the offer, but it seems not to mind the actual ethical conflict posed by the underlying assisted-suicide policy.
Yeah, government run health care will be soooo much better for us. Accountants determining what care you get just sends a shiver down my leg.