Friday, July 17, 2009

On Health Care Rationing

My question: How do pro-life (evangelical) conservatives feel about health care rationing?

NY Times' current #2 most-emailed article is an op-ed entitled "Why We Must Ration Health Care."

The question is this:
You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?
What if this person was in your insurance pool? Or was on Medicare and your taxes were funding treatment? Do you still approve the treatment? What becomes the prohibitive cost/benefit ratio, and how do we measure it?

I suspect the unthinking knee-jerk reaction of most evangelical conservatives is: "You can't put a price tag on life."

I remember in the White House health care roundtable on ABC last month a woman whose mother received expensive treatment was supposed to live 6 months but was still alive 10 years later (or something, don't remember exactly). President Obama acknowledged the difficulty of choosing (citing his own grandmother's situation), basically admitting that the woman's mother probably wouldn't receive the treatment in his world unless a team of experts felt it was necessary and cost-effective.

Health care costs rising faster than overall inflation are what is helping paint a very bleak fiscal picture. Saying "no" to expensive treatments that have questionable value is a crucial duty of any health provider. If our government provides health care, then people behind desks will have to make that call for the good of the entire nation (ie: to avoid economic catastrophe).

It may not make you feel good that the government will make that call (and Republicans reportedly have opposed rationing when it comes to Medicare...bizzarely enough) or a guy behind a desk in a private insurance company, but the call needs to be made sometime.

Any thoughts?

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