The UK’s rationing board NICE has urged hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices around the UK to implement the “Liverpool Care Pathway,” under which patients supposedly near death are sedated into unconsciousness and denied food and water. There are now indications that the Pathway is being applied categorically, whether a patient’s symptoms require it or not. Indeed, there are charges that people who had treatable conditions were put on the Pathway to death.
I have a piece on this in today’s NRO that provides details and warns that the Pathway controversy is highly relevant to Obamacare. From the conclusion to my column :
This is precisely the paint-by-the-numbers medical approach that Obamacare threatens to bring across the pond to our shores. Indeed, former senator Tom Daschle whom the New York Times called the most influential adviser to the president in the health-care debate has long urged that America adopt NICE-style centralized medical planning. Indeed, according to Scott Gottlieb, writing in the Wall Street Journal , Daschle “argues that the only way to reduce spending is by allocating medical products based on ‘cost effectiveness.’ He’s also called for a ‘federal health board’ modeled on the Federal Reserve to rate medical products and create central controls on access.”
Chillingly, current Obamacare plans call for the creation of many cost/benefit/best-practices boards, the full power of which wont be fully known until the bureaucrats promulgate tens of thousands of pages of regulations between now and 2013, when the law would go into effect. Making matters more alarming, these boards would not only govern treatment provided in any public-option health plan, but would also be empowered to set the standards of care paid for by private insurance. Unless the final version of Obamacare is amended explicitly to prohibit such centralized health planning, dont be surprised if an American version of the Liverpool Care Pathway comes soon to a hospital or nursing home near you.
Obamacare is intent on cutting costs. The great danger is that while the government will never ration its own spending, never cut its own perks, never decide that a program has outlived its usefulness, it will readily cut the most vulnerable among us out of life itself.