Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sneaking end-of-life consultations into Obamacare...

During the debate over Obamacare last year, controversy erupted over a Medicare provision related to end-of-life consultations with doctors. Following well-publicized criticism from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin concerning government "death panels," the provision was promptly dropped. But now the New York Times reports that it has been resurrected in new Medicare regulations. There is both a right and a wrong reason to be outraged about this. Some have responded with the charged term coined by Palin, but this criticism is misplaced in the present instance. "Death panel" is entirely justified when used in reference to another provision of Obamacare -- the Independent Payment Advisory Board -- whose members will attempt to save money by making one-size-fits-all recommendations for skimping on care protocols and treatment regimes, particularly for older patients."

Since I was born and raised Roman Catholic I forever find myself laden with enough guilt to re-sink the Titanic whenever the issue of healthcare rears its ugly head. 
And with Obama in charge the head has never been uglier.
The Veterans Administration healthcare facilities are, by and large, over-crowded, ancient, and devoid of anything resembling pleasant decor. What they have in spades are dedicated nurses and doctors and I'll take that any day over fresh paint and Obamacare. The VA joints spoil you rotten when it comes to leaving no stone unturned in the quest for that healthier you, and this seems to be the exact opposite of what is in store for senior citizens facing the end of the road with a national healthcare system that is more interested in saving money than lives.
Me, if I need a prescription refill I go online, order it, and 3 days later its in my mailbox. Maximum cost per refill, ANY refill, is $8. Doctor visits are $15. Its a good deal and I know it but sometimes it makes me feel guilty. Just the other day I'm sitting in the hallway awaiting my number to be called when a nurses cart comes rolling on over. Free Flu Shots. Free Pneumonia Shots, Free Whatever-Ails-You-Shots.  

And those are the entry-level veterans benefits that cost me nadda, not a penny's premium, but if you want more you can pay for more. Seems to me like overkill but perhaps that isn't a good word to use in describing this stuff. Prescriptions drop to $4 a pop and Dr visits are something like 8 smackerooni's per sawbones, but when you start figuring it all out it breaks even so why go through the additional paperwork, ya know.
Anyway, you take good care of me but at least I've the good graces to be embarrassed by all the fuss because, after all, the federal government really needs to cut back on spending and here I am being treated like royalty. Well, Duchy of Grand Fenwick royalty perhaps but royalty nonetheless. 
So its doubtful I'll ever find myself on any death-watch list and that's a good thing. 

I really hate long lines.

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