Obama HealthCare: Limiting Care for Terminally Ill
Here we go… it’s starting. He’s already discussing saving money by limiting care for people who are supposed to be near death. It starts there and then creeps forward. Who gets to decide if I’m beyond help? Also notice the 2nd article. He wants to push some half-baked healthcare plan on us that he and his family WON”T have to live with. They’ll still get great care and won’t have to worry about when their care will be limited.
Obama discusses deathbed measures
At a healthcare town hall, he says stopping futile procedures for the terminally ill can lower costs.
By Peter Nicholas
June 25, 2009
Reporting from Washington — President Obama suggested at a town hall event Wednesday night that one way to shave medical costs is to stop expensive and ultimately futile procedures performed on people who are about to die and don’t stand to gain from the extra care.
In a nationally televised event at the White House, Obama said families need better information so they don’t unthinkingly approve “additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care.”
He added: “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”
Obama said he has personal familiarity with such a dilemma. His grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given less than nine months to live, he said.
She fell and broke her hip, “and the question was, does she get hip replacement surgery, even though she was fragile enough they were not sure how long she would last?”
Obama’s grandmother died two days before he was elected president in November. It was unclear whether she underwent the hip-replacement surgery.
The event, hosted by ABC News’ Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, gave Obama a prime-time forum to promote his healthcare overhaul. A total of 164 guests were invited. ABC pre-screened questions, though the White House was not made aware of what they would be.
Republicans described the event as an “infomercial,” faulting ABC for giving the president such valuable TV time in the midst of a high-stakes partisan policy discussion.
The audience — which included doctors, patients, health insurers, students and people with ailing relatives — clearly was unhappy with the current healthcare system. Gibson asked for a show of hands to see how many wanted to leave the system unchanged. No one raised a hand.
President Obama Defends Right to Choose Best Care ( for himself)
In ABC News Health Care Forum, President Answers Questions About Reform
By JAKE TAPPER and KAREN TRAVERS
June 24, 2009
President Obama struggled to explain today whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people — like the president himself — wouldn’t face.
The probing questions came from two skeptical neurologists during ABC News’ special on health care reform, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America,” anchored from the White House by Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson.
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it’s not provided by insurance.
Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn’t seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he’s proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.
The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if “it’s my family member, if it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother I always want them to get the very best care.”
“There’s a whole bunch of care that’s being provided that every study, that every bit of evidence that we have indicates may not be making us healthier,” he said.
Gibson interjected that often patients don’t know what will work until they get every test they can.
“Often times we know what makes sense and what doesn’t,” the president responded, making a push for evidence-based medicine.
Gibson asked the president if it doesn’t make sense to decide what the limitations will be on options in any health-care reform proposal before voting on it.
“That’s what people are afraid of,” Gibson said.
The president said he understood the American people “know they’re living with the devil, but the devil they know instead of the devil they don’t.”
Another neurologist, Dr. John Corboy of the University of Colorado Health Science Center, asked the president, “What can you do to convince the American public that there actually are limits to what we can pay for with our American health care system and if there are going to be limits, who’s going to design the system and who’s going to enforce the rules for a system like that? ”
Obama, however, didn’t directly answer the question.
“If we are smart, we should be able to design a system in which people still have choices of doctors and choices of plans that make sure that necessary treatment is provided but we don’t have a huge amount of waste in the system,” he said.
‘Great Confidence’ in Physicians
He said he had “great confidence” that physicians “are going to always want to do right thing” if they have the right information and a payment structure that focuses on evidence and results and not tests and referrals.
“We should change those incentive structures,” the president said. “Our job this Summer and this Fall,” he said, is to “identify the best ways to achieve the best possible care.”
The president cited the Mayo Clinic as an example of a medical center where experts had figured out the most effective treatments and eliminated waste and unnecessary procedures.
Sawyer said that e-mails ABC News had received argued that “the Mayo Clinic is exactly the point,” indicating that private companies are solving this problem, and raising the question as to why the government needs to get involved.
“And, unfortunately, government, whether you like it or not, is going to already be involved,” Obama said, citing Medicare and Medicaid.
End-of-life issues were raised as well; right now it is estimated that nearly 30 percent of Medicare’s annual $327 billion budget is spent on patients in their final year of life.
Jane Sturm told the story of her nearly 100-year-old mother, who was originally denied a pacemaker because of her age. She eventually got one, but only after seeking out another doctor.
“Outside the medical criteria,” Sturm asked, “is there a consideration that can be given for a certain spirit … and quality of life?”
“I don’t think we can make judgments based on peoples’ spirits — that would be pretty subjective,” the president said.
“End-of-life care is one of the most difficult sets of decisions we’re going to have to make,” he said. “I don’t want bureaucracies making decisions,” he said, arguing that “ultimately, that’s going to be between physicians and patients.”
Earlier in the day at the White House, Obama told a bipartisan group of governors he wants them to be kept in the loop as health care reform legislation develops on Capitol Hill.
“We’re committed to working with them in the weeks and months to come to make sure that when we get health reform done it is in partnership with the states, where the rubber so often hits the road,” the president told reporters.
But Obama acknowledged the thorny issues they’re all facing — including whether there should be a government-run public plan, who will pay for it, and how to achieve universal coverage.
“There’s no perfect unanimity across the table in terms of every single aspect of reform,” the president said.
The biggest bone of contention may be how to pay for reform.
“Anything that we do on health care we have to have a long-term plan to pay the bills,” said South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican, who attended the meeting.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that aired today on “Good Morning America,” Obama indicated that there was a breaking point in the balance sheets where he would say that the cost of reforming the system is too great for the federal government to handle, but he did not put a price tag on it.
“I think that if any reform that we get is not driving down costs in a serious way … if people say, ‘We’re just going to add more people onto a hugely inefficient system,’ then I will say no. Because — we can’t afford it,” he said.