Tags: times | rationing | elderly

New York Times: Rationing for Elderly 'Not Irrational'

Sunday, 23 Aug 2009 06:47 PM

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Democrats in Congress and President Obama insist the new Obamacare plan being pushed for a quick vote this September won't hurt the elderly, their Medicare, nor will it lead to rationing.

Supporters of the Obama plan say the "rationing" argument is simply scaremongering. Under rationing, elderly patients

may be denied life-saving medical procedures and vital drugs. If the patient is deemed too old, scarce health resources should be directed to younger people in need of care.

On Friday, the liberal New York Times weighed in, suggesting that indeed critics are likely correct, a new government plan would lead to reduced benefits to Senior citizens.

In the Times report, A Basis Is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly, the paper cites "Medicare beneficiaries and insurance counselors [who] say the concerns are not entirely irrational."

"Bills now in Congress would squeeze savings out of Medicare, a lifeline for the elderly, on the assumption that doctors and hospitals can be more efficient."

Obama and key Democrats have argued that their plan controls skyrocketing health costs.

To help get control of such costs, Democratic plans call for saving money by creating new oversight committees. Medicare and insurers would be expected to follow "advice from a new federal panel of medical experts on 'what treatments work best.'”

The paper added: "The zeal for cutting health costs, combined with proposals to compare the effectiveness of various treatments and to counsel seniors on end-of-life care, may explain why some people think the legislation is about rationing, which could affect access to the most expensive services in the final months of life."

Critics of the Democratic plan believe the government system will face an overload when 50 million currently uninsured are added to the government health care system. Something will have to "give," and that something may just be critical, but often expensive medical procedures for the elderly.

The Times quoted Mark D. Eaton, a 59-year-old AARP member in Lancaster, Mass., who said: “Medicare might stay the same. But by the time you provide insurance to millions and millions and millions of people, we will be out of money, and we’ll be out of doctors.”

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