Oregon state health plan will pay to kill you, but not keep you alive

posted at 2:00 pm on June 20, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Opponents of state-run medical insurance argue that government rationing would result in people being consigned to die.  Opponents of right-to-die legislation argue that it presents a slippery slope in which the state would eventually have people killed.  A harmonic convergence of sorts has taken place in Oregon which proves both points:

After weeks of bad news, things turned Barbara Wagner’s way this week.

Last month her lung cancer, in remission for about two years, was back. After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that could slow the cancer growth and extend her life, Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover it.

It would cover comfort and care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide.

Excuse me?  Oregon’s state-run health care plan won’t cover a new drug that could extend her life — which is, after all, the entire point of health insurance and health care — but will gladly pay the bill if she decides to stop costing the state more money.   What’s next — a Logan’s Run option for “renewal” at 30?

Lady Logician wonders the same thing, as oncologists in Oregon report that this is not an isolated case:

This is the kind of “care” that all Americans (not just Minnesotans and Utahns) can expect should government run health care become a reality. Is this really the kind of care we want for our aging parents or our children or even ourselves? Somehow I think the answer is a resounding no!

Jazz Shaw:

Whenver I hear either of our presidential candidates shouting about health care reform I get a prickling senstion in my palms and a pronounced tic in my left eye. It’s not that we don’t have a need for health care and insurance improvements in our country – clearly there is work to be done. But I’ve been watching and participating in elections since Nixon’s day and all too often I’ve gawked as our Federal government’s well intentioned but ham handed attempts to “fix things” turn into a case of Ferdinand the bull trampling the flowers he was attempting to sniff. ….

This isn’t a case of bad doctors. This is a system following rules meant to improve the process which wind up veering off into realms better suited to science fiction.

It’s more than that. This is the entirely predictable result of the shift in thinking of human life as sacred to an entirely materialistic view.  Human life becomes a commodity, especially when the state has charge of it and responsibility for its costs.  When the state assumes the cost for the most personal and private functions of its citizens, the private and personal become public, and the limits of government disappear.

Do you like French fries?  Those cause heart disease, which costs the government X billions of dollars per year, so those are out.  How about tanning booths?  Skin cancer treatments cost $X billions, too, so we’ll outlaw those.  Finally, so what if you want to extend your life an extra couple of years?  You can’t generate enough revenue to make up for the cost of the treatment, so the state won’t allow it.  If you’d be so kind as to drop dead now, though, that will save some money for a badly-needed sex-change operation.

Fortunately, Wagner got rescued from her own state government.  Who played the hero?  The evil pharmaceutical company that produces the drug she needs, who gave it to her for free out of disgust.


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Medical care delivered with all of the compassion of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 2:03 PM

WOW! We have gone the way of the Europeans… but at least we get to die faster via assisted suicide!

Sad, just freaking sad!

upinak on June 20, 2008 at 2:07 PM

Excellent…and democrats want this to be universal.

Change!

Viewtifulgare on June 20, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Medical care delivered with all of the compassion of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 2:03 PM

That’s always what I say to argue with someone who’s in favor of government run, “free” healthcare; Image a hospital being run like the DMV.

Viewtifulgare on June 20, 2008 at 2:09 PM

/imagine

preview is my friend

Viewtifulgare on June 20, 2008 at 2:09 PM

What’s next — a Logan’s Run option for “renewal” at 30?

I’m thinking Soylent Green.

Nosferightu on June 20, 2008 at 2:10 PM

Who played the hero? The evil pharmaceutical company that produces the drug she needs, who gave it to her for free out of disgust.

The Oregon Health Plan probably punished them for it.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on June 20, 2008 at 2:11 PM

I’m thinking Soylent Green.

Nosferightu on June 20, 2008 at 2:10 PM

I would rather drink sewage and eat a rock!

upinak on June 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM

Cicero43

Interesting handle. Referencing the Roman senator and consul?

DocKen on June 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM

This juxtaposition from Oregon is striking and simple to understand. It would be very effective when used in arguments regarding universal health care or assisted suicide.

aunursa on June 20, 2008 at 2:13 PM

But the intent of the list was to exclude coverage of treatments that are futile, or where potential benefit is minimal in relation to expense.

Aren’t HMO’s considered the brother of Satan for doing the exact same thing? But in the hands of government, it’s okay?

lorien1973 on June 20, 2008 at 2:14 PM

As the pro-choice people always say “keep your hands off my body.”

rbj on June 20, 2008 at 2:18 PM

But local oncologists say they’ve seen a change and that their Oregon Health Plan patients with advanced cancer no longer get coverage for chemotherapy if it is considered comfort care.

It doesn’t adhere to the standards of care set out in the oncology community, said Dr. John Caton, an oncologist at Willamette Valley Cancer Center.

I think this means that giving the drug would be standard of care, but it’s not worded very well.

My very first experience with Tricare was finding out that they wouldn’t do something that is standard of care. It was eye-opening and I’m no longer suprised by this kind of thing.

MamaAJ on June 20, 2008 at 2:18 PM

From the article:

Wagner said she was devastated when she found out the plan doesn’t cover Tarceva.

“I think it’s messed up,” Wagner said, bursting into tears.

“The letter said doctor-assisted suicide would be covered. To say to someone, `we’ll pay for you to die, but not pay for you to live,’ it’s cruel,” she said. “I get angry. Who do they think they are?”

Dr. John Sattenspiel, senior medical director for LIPA, said that at some level doctor-assisted suicide could be considered as a palliative or comfort care measure. “We had no intent to upset her, but we do need to point out the options available to her under the Oregon Health Plan,” he said

aunursa on June 20, 2008 at 2:19 PM

Oregon is fast beginning to tie with Vermont when it comes to politically correct wackiness and Justice Gone Wild. Besides this latest medical exercise in insanity, they also just had a school principal up there ban students from saying the Pledge Of Allegiance…….. so as not to insult the Muslim students attending the school. Let’s see Vermont top that one!

pilamaye on June 20, 2008 at 2:21 PM

Compassionate liberalism.

VolMagic on June 20, 2008 at 2:23 PM

Clarification: I shouldn’t have said Tricare, since it seemed to be a policy of the particular military health facility. Wherever it was decided, it did not please me!

MamaAJ on June 20, 2008 at 2:23 PM

Socialized medicine has all the compassion of the IRS and all the efficiency of Congress.

Maxx on June 20, 2008 at 2:24 PM

pilamaye on June 20, 2008 at 2:21 PM

link?

lorien1973 on June 20, 2008 at 2:25 PM

Oh I get it now.

This is just another back door way for the left to shrink the population.

Universal Health Care, will not prolong life but shrink it and the population.

These guys are slick. Hope people wake up and smell what the left is shoveling.

jharada on June 20, 2008 at 2:28 PM

Oregon Health Plan (OHP) is horrid. They pay out so little that it affects the care provided. I actually overheard a doctor tell a neonatal nurse “Don’t bother, it’s an OHP baby.”

But if you’re an illegal alien convicted of violent sex crimes and need EXPENSIVE kidney dialysis while in prison…
NO PROBLEMO!

innominatus on June 20, 2008 at 2:31 PM

Advocates of Socialism are ultimately advocates for death. Each individual is assigned a value and when “operating” costs exceed the value of the object you kill it. Historically, socialized medicine provided relatively good care for those who are young and in the prime of their life. However, as the number of productive years remaining decline the quality of care declines so that the burden of pensions costs canbe reduced. Why do you think European cancer five year survival rates are so much lower then here in America? Cancer is largely a disease of aging and EUROSOC medical care doesn’t spend money on saving non-productive lives.

Socialist governments in any form ultimately end up treating its citizens just like the Nazis did in their euthanasia program

jerryofva on June 20, 2008 at 2:31 PM

Wait a minute: doctor-assisted suicide is okay in Oregon? When did that happen?

Kensington on June 20, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Oregon is fast beginning to tie with Vermont

Don’t forget the 4th of July parade in Ashland. Flags and uniforms are a no-no. “Too Jingoistic”. But a topless chick wearing only a hemp g-string? “That’s patriotic dissent! We welcome it!”

innominatus on June 20, 2008 at 2:34 PM

Sadly this isn’t even hard to believe.

VikingGoneWild on June 20, 2008 at 2:36 PM

Interesting handle. Referencing the Roman senator and consul?

DocKen on June 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM

Yeah. Cicero was killed in 43 B.C.E. He’s one of my history idols.

Cicero43 on June 20, 2008 at 2:39 PM

there are environmentalists that think the less people there are the better it is for their goddess, gaia

right4life on June 20, 2008 at 2:48 PM

We’re here for your liver…

Mr. Bingley on June 20, 2008 at 2:48 PM

I like the Logan’s Run analogy and have made it myself in reference to the eco-Marxist plans to probably one day try to isolate mankind from nature by confining us all to giant ‘haibtrails’ like a bunch of overgrown Gerbils or hamsters.

DerKrieger on June 20, 2008 at 2:49 PM

My long-term fear is that the Imageo Deo, the lifeblood of viable and humane Bio-ethics and Medical Ethics, simply cannot be sustained very long in a collectivist, Socialist government model of healthcare, where methodological naturalism blocks anything resembling even a shade of religious influences in the name of “separation of church and state.”

ColtsFan on June 20, 2008 at 2:50 PM

When the state assumes the burden of medical care, the Right to Die will morph into the Duty to Die almost immediately.

At the same time the State of Oregon is applying an overtly utilitarian argument to the end of life, the various groups promoting Embryonic Stem Cell Research are applying the same utilitarian arguments to the start of life. Up until recently, the arguments over abortion were couched in terms of competing rights. The rights of the mother to privacy and medical control were balanced against the right to life of the unborn child. But the Embryonic Stem Cell Research supporterss explicity argue that the utility of destroying the nascent human life in order to promote research or cures outweighs the right to life of the unborn.

Now that we have started down this road, where the utility of life is to be the standard rather than the sanctity of life, we have set ourselves up for all sorts of horrors, such as the World has never seen since the days of the Nazis and Stalin.

gridlock2 on June 20, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Has Ted Kennedy chimed in yet on this?

BallisticBob on June 20, 2008 at 2:54 PM

What makes this such a difficult argument to win is that most people just hear “free health care” and assume that they will receive the level of private care we receive now at no cost to themselves. The problem is that government – “public” – health care exists right now and people complain bitterly about it all the time. Pregnant Medicaid patients see the providers at the public clinics and then just show up for delivery at the private hospitals because they “don’t like” the public hospitals. Most don’t work and they pay no premiums and yet expect top-notch care for nothing. Well, with federal health care, they, along with everyone else, will have no choice but a public facility (except, of course, for the VIPs, who seem to be able to perpetuate a two-tier system even in the most socialist of countries).

People do not seem to get that we have government health care right now that covers the poor, the elderly, the disabled (don’t get me started on the fraud rampant there!). I have worked in public clinics where no money ever changed hands because we had full-time staff who knew which government pockets to pull from to pay for our services. While the facilities are often not fancy and can be crowded, the actual care is really very good. (I would much rather have cardiac surgery at Parkland Hospital in Dallas than ever let a Cuban doctor even touch me.) It is not a perfect system but there are other ways to reform it besides a whole-sale socialist take-over.

One way to cut costs and to reduce unneccesary demand would be to start collecting co-pays from Medicaid patients. Right now they pay nothing. A nominal co-pay of $5/visit (the approx cost of a pack of cigarettes or a meal at McDonald’s) would help decrease demand somewhat and raise the value of the care (you never truly value what you get for free). Just a thought.

inmypajamas on June 20, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Last month her lung cancer, in remission for about two years, was back. After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that could slow the cancer growth and extend her life, Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover it.

How many states have a state plan that will?

MB4 on June 20, 2008 at 3:12 PM

But is there anything shocking here? If prices can’t be controlled (and they can’t be), and if resources are limited (they are), then there must be some form of rationing. A free market system rations by price, a socialist system by executive mandate. It’s just a matter of how the rationing is to be carried out.

The appeal of a socialist system is that it can be made more “fair.” The downside is that such systems are much inferior when it comes to efficiency and the encouragement of innovation. But the advantages of a market system are not politically decisive for health care, because in this particular area considerations of equality and fairness tend to trump all others. What people feel about their health care system is not necessarily determined by the average level of care it provides, but may be more a matter of the spread around that average — a society may prefer less variance, even if that means a lower mean. My guess is that if the question were put to a vote, not only would it be decided that way in most societies, I think it would be favored in every society.

Does that mean we will eventually have socialized medicine? Bet on it. Will we be able to afford it? Yes, but only to the extent that care is rationed by mandate. Will the advance of medical technology be slowed? Yes again. Will people care about that slow-down? Not much.

There is no “solution” to the problems of health care. It’s just a matter of what trade-offs a society is comfortable with and willing to make. I don’t think democratic societies will turn out to differ very widely in that.

Byron on June 20, 2008 at 3:14 PM

Cicero43

Interesting handle. Referencing the Roman senator and consul?

DocKen on June 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM

Yeah…that dude got sOOoooo stabbed in the neck on HBO’s ‘Rome’…..Totally…complete….

BigWyo on June 20, 2008 at 3:17 PM

Genentech rocks! I was there for ten years. It is a GREAT company!

Brian Paasch on June 20, 2008 at 3:30 PM

I hope Barbara Wagner is well enough to do a TV commercial for universal health care. I think she could singlehandedly sink it for at least a generation. Her story proves that you don’t want a government bureaucrat doing a cost benefit analysis of your healthcare because you will always lose.

I remember reading that if everyone died at 69 or younger Social Security would be solvent for the foreseeable future.

meci on June 20, 2008 at 3:31 PM

Just wait until the government psychiatrists begin labeling those thinking unapproved thoughts as mental defectives. Then promoting euthanasia for “incurables.” Then stand by for the mental hospitals to be purged, then the gypsies, then whatever other groups or mindsets the government deems expendable. Patient denies global warming. Diagnosis: insane. Patient opposes gun control. Diagnosis: insane. Patient opposes higher taxation. Diagnosis: insane. Patient demands home schooling for children instead of government provided indoctrination. Diagnosis: insane. Patient opposes Fairness Doctrine. Diagnosis: insane. Patient opposes hope and change. Diagnosis: insane. Build the showers. Fire up the ovens.

What? You dare disagree with government knowing best? A final re-education session has been scheduled for you. It had best work this time or it’s off to the never-heard-from-again gulag or Lubyanka for you and your entire family.

Logan’s Run, Brazil, Fahrenheit 451, Orwell’s 1984, Triumph of the Will, Metropolis, etc. There are plenty of books and films describing unrestrained government gone wild under the guise of knowing what’s best for the sheep willing to blindly follow.

viking01 on June 20, 2008 at 3:34 PM

Soylant Green is people!!!!! It’s people!!!!!!!!

Hening on June 20, 2008 at 3:41 PM

So it’s come to this. Saving money thru killing people.

With all of the abortions the left has, how much have they saved? Certainly not their souls.

madmonkphotog on June 20, 2008 at 4:06 PM

First, do no harm…indeed.

Lunkinator on June 20, 2008 at 4:20 PM

Visualize Craig Livingstone in charge of the People’s Genetic Profile Database, Jocelyn Elders as Surgeon Kaiser-General deciding what constitutes a luved and wanted chow, and dirtbag Chuckie Schumer in charge of health care budgeting. Those barbecued for government convenience at Waco will look like they got off easy. Refusing to fork over your genetic profile? Don’t be surprised if you get raided like rabid Janet Reno after varmint Elian Gonzalez or the Palm Beach (Mexican cops) authorities going after Rush Limbaugh’s prescription records.

Should the government in its infinite wisdom deem your genetic profile undesirable then get ready to add the terms spayed / neutered to your active vocabulary.

viking01 on June 20, 2008 at 4:30 PM

I just want to know what kind of American is objecting to topless chicks in hemp g-strings?? Commie!

Jazz Shaw on June 20, 2008 at 4:52 PM

Life as we know it here in the People’s Republik of Oregon…

Wyznowski on June 20, 2008 at 5:53 PM

“The letter said doctor-assisted suicide would be covered. To say to someone, `we’ll pay for you to die, but not pay for you to live,’ it’s cruel,” she said. “I get angry. Who do they think they are?

The same people that would love for the government to run everything. You’re a prole, ma’am. You’re supposed to work when you’re told, and die when you’re told.

spmat on June 20, 2008 at 6:02 PM

Can’t wait till Kennedy takes them up on their offer!

Tim Burton on June 20, 2008 at 6:17 PM

That should sufficiently cover government run health care.

Stupid idea that will be run stupidly by stupid people.

Hog Wild on June 20, 2008 at 7:32 PM

What makes this such a difficult argument to win is that most people just hear “free health care” and assume that they will receive the level of private care we receive now at no cost to themselves.

Which is exactly why I post on stories like this. I feel that it is necessary to spread the word about this….for my mothers sake.

Thanks for the link Cap.

LL

Lady Logician on June 21, 2008 at 12:23 AM

I know a liberal who’s big issue is socialized medicine. Because she had always relied on her employer to provide her insurance, she is now stuck with state insurance since she was diagnosed with MS after her employer went bankrupt. She is constantly (and rightfully) complaining about the poor quality of her insurance. You’d think she would be able to make the leap here and realize that federal insurance would be more of the same, but no, she’s sure that it would be, you know, like a magic wand.

I can only shake my head.

rightwingprof on June 21, 2008 at 11:58 AM