Monday, March 15, 2010

End of Life Care Rationing?

What do you envision when your time comes to get ready for the exit from the breathing tax paying world to that of the pushing up daisy world?  No matter whether you are a firm believer in "quality vs quantity" or in the "I want to go peacefully" mode, you will no doubt find this debate of interest.  Why should the government decide who lives and who dies?  Why should the government be involved in such a personal private decision?

Does this subject give you chills?  It certainly gives them to me as we wait and see if the government is successful in taking over health care by the reform bill on the table.

Thought you'd want to follow this debate of the analyists for the government potentially using Medicare patients as a way to ration, and therefore, "contain" medical costs.

Does the U.S. Need to Ration Costly End-of-Life Care?

/PRNewswire/ -- With skyrocketing Medicare costs contributing to record-setting budget deficits, does the United States need to ration costly end-of-life care? This compelling topic will be the focus of an upcoming debate produced by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in partnership with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and The National Press Club.

The debate will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 24 at 7:00 pm ET. It will be webcast live at and air later on PBS stations across the country.

Debaters include:
-- Ken Connor, Chairman, Center for a Just Society, Gov. Jeb Bush's
Attorney in Terri Schiavo case
-- Marie Hilliard, Director of Bioethics and Public Policy, National
Catholic Bioethics Center
-- Dr. Ira Byock, Director of Palliative Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Medical Center, Author, "Dying Well"
-- Arthur Caplan, Director, Center for Bioethics, University of

Susan Dentzer, Editor-in-Chief of "Health Affairs" and a "PBS NewsHour" analyst, will moderate the debate.

With more than one-fourth of Medicare expenses going to medical treatment in patients' last year of life, debaters will argue what, if anything, the government should do to contain costs. Should the government spend less on costly end-of-life procedures and instead use these resources to care for more patients? Would it be better to ration by choice and let patients and their doctors decide on end-of-life care, such as living wills and pain management? What would be the social implications of a rationing policy? Would the government be deciding who is worth saving and who is not?

This debate will be followed later this spring by debates on the cost of college moderated by Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for "PBS NewsHour" and on the impact of the Internet on democracy moderated by Robin MacNeil of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.

The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a leading nonpartisan public policy institution aimed at bringing together engaged citizens, scholars, members of the media and government officials to focus on issues of national importance to the governance of the United States, with a special interest in the American presidency.

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