WSJ: VA pushes vets to consider death as an alternative to treatment

posted at 11:36 am on August 20, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The ObamaCare bill may not contain “death panels,” but even Charles Lane and Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post wonder why the bill incentivizes end-of-life consultations with the elderly and ill as part of its cost-containment strategy.  Maybe Lane and Robinson should take a look at the VA, where the Obama administration and former General Eric Shinseki have reinstated a program called “Your Life, Your Choices.”  The Wall Street Journal reports that this program amounts to a high-pressure sales pitch for refusal of treatment for veterans:

“Your Life, Your Choices” presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political “push poll.” For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be “not worth living.”

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to “shake the blues.” There is a section which provocatively asks, “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug’?” There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as “I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family” and that the vet’s situation “causes severe emotional burden for my family.”

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

One can only imagine a soldier surviving the war in Iraq and returning without all of his limbs only to encounter a veteran’s health-care system that seems intent on his surrender.

I was not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update “Your Life, Your Choices” between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates. And as you might guess, only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society (now euphemistically known as “Compassion and Choices”).

Of course, the program is entirely voluntary, right?  Well, the VA has instructed its physicians to deliver this end-of-life counseling to all of its patients.  In effect, the US government is telling every veteran it treats that they may want to die for their country — not to defend it, but to save it a few bucks.

This booklet has been in use since the Clinton administration.  When the Bush administration finally reviewed “Your Life, Your Choices,” it suspended its use within the VA system.  For some reason, the Obama administration and Shinseki have reinstated the booklet this year.  The directive reinstituting the booklet was issued last month.

Perhaps some of the “death panels” rhetoric was overblown, but this is downright disgusting.  The Bush administration was correct in suspending the use of these tactics to push vets into refusing treatment, and the government these men and women defended should be ashamed to have put that in their hands in the first place.  If Obama wants to argue that he won’t bend the cost curve downward at the expense of treatment, maybe he should start by stopping that very policy at the VA — one of the existing “public plans” that need reform much more than the overall health-care system.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Such valuable information. Thanks to all who shared their experiences.

“Death Panels” has staying power, much like Reagan’s “Evil Empire” caused all the Libs and RINOS to almost have a stroke because the language was so harsh.

portlandon on August 20, 2009 at 12:54 PM

Some say Palin never used the phrase ‘Death Panels’ but in any case she gets credit for it. The press in their rush to make her a fool, made her a hero

The title of the booklet creeps me out “Your Life, Your Choices”. At ‘end-of-life’ the patient is least able to represent himself, and most vunerable to having a proxy make the decisions for him.

The Terri Schiavo case is the prototype of what is coming. A percentage of folk who want euthanesia for themselves project upon the helpless patient their own desires. The Hemlockers move in to ‘protect’ the patient, and those who believe in cherishing the last sparks of life are crowded out of the picture. Schiavo was a faithful Catholic who went to mass every week (without her husband) yet despite the fact there was a huge trust fund to care for her, she was starved and dehydrated to death in a darkened room with new age music for her final ‘journey’, the attorney for her husband collecting as fees a lot of the money intended for her care, and her family treated like criminals for wanting to take her home.

I want the VA to encourage all vet patients to life, and to bring them back to joy of life if they have lost it. That is what I call healing

entagor on August 21, 2009 at 1:21 AM

I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and that it’ll all have been a bad dream.

hawkdriver on August 21, 2009 at 2:02 AM

veteranoutrage on August 21, 2009 at 2:14 AM

this is some sick crap..

I NEVER EVER heard of a physician tellig our fine soldiers
ohh maybe your a mental burden on your family???
My GOD what in the HELL are these ASSWIPES doing..?

this is some sick crap
this is seriously some psycho crap..

Ohh your a burded? so go ahead an take some pills
Why dont they TELL the God Damed liberals to start
offing themselves..

Hell they would do the country a favor..
Ever notice that..?

the liberals NEVER tell their own children
go ahead and kill yourself.
The liberals NEVER tell their own consituants
Go ahead here are some pills do us a favor and stop being a burden…

This isnt america any more..
this is NAZI GERMANY ..

veteranoutrage on August 21, 2009 at 2:18 AM

WSJ: VA pushes vets to consider death as an alternative to treatment

This really enrages me! Bush suspended this and the O puts it back in place one week ago??? Where is the OUTRAGE?
I want to see some statistics related to the level of VA care and the number of military and veteran suicides. Do you wonder if there has been any change since BHO was elected? The lying traitor deserves his own personal level of Hell for this alone, IMHO.

indypat on August 21, 2009 at 7:34 AM

After reading that article I have never been so disgusted in my life … President Obama is a disgrace…He has plenty of $$s for ‘Cars for Clunkers’ but neither concern, sympathy or gratitude to senior citizens and the finest military on the planet…he also had shown zero concern for abortion infants born alive.
I am ashamed that this man is President Of The USA.

philly_PA on August 21, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Philly, cash for clunkers is dead tomorrow. They bungled again and are out of cash.

Bozo is a disgrace. And today they admitted they are incompetent too:

Admitted even in the Washington Post…

dogsoldier on August 21, 2009 at 9:38 AM

I took the article from the WSJ to our local VA Hospital when I went to do my volunteer stint. I found the nurses on the wards were already passing it around with some concern.

Phil Carter on August 21, 2009 at 9:40 AM

A leader that tells you have outlived our actuarial tables is telling you you have no value and because you are taking away his money by winning life’s insurance lottery. Such a leader, is guilty criminal murder and robbery.

More than the monetary issue, such a leader is changing (actually repeating) history because everyone of us is a chapter in the book of U.S. However, they are also repeating history such as Hitler, Napoleon, Czarist Russia, and others who tried to manipulate their race as superior above all others.

MSGTAS on August 21, 2009 at 10:32 AM

What do you expect. They’re just soldiers and they mostly support the GOP anyway. If they can’t be used as political pawns or cannon fodder, then what good are they? And if they’re disabled, then they’re just an expensive pain in the ass.

And it’s not as if they had any future to begin with. We all know they only volunteered because they were either hopelessly dumb rubes or psychopathic killers. So what’s the problem?

RadClown on August 21, 2009 at 10:38 AM

WSJ: VA pushes vets to consider death as an alternative to treatment

This really enrages me! Bush suspended this and the O puts it back in place one week ago??? Where is the OUTRAGE?
I want to see some statistics related to the level of VA care and the number of military and veteran suicides. Do you wonder if there has been any change since BHO was elected? The lying traitor deserves his own personal level of Hell for this alone, IMHO.

indypat on August 21, 2009 at 7:34 AM

I’m sure Obama, Pelosi, Ted K, Barney, Reid, Murtha and a long list of monsters, and their families, put on this planet will find a whole new area of hell to live in

Jeff from WI on August 21, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Hell, it wasn’t very long ago, Obambi floated the idea that injured vets pay for their war time injuries. He is totally without gratitude or respect for our fighting men and women.

God bless our military.

la.rt.wngr on August 21, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Iowahawk or The Onion needs to parody this substituting blues musicians for vets.

-Can’t shake the blues?
-Is life a low-down cryin’ shame?
-Do you sit on the levee and moan?
-Been down so long bein’ down don’t bother you?
-Constantly ask people to take you to the river and drop you in the water?
-Does it take one bourbon, on scotch, and one beer just to get through the day?
-In your time of dying, do you want nobody to moan, is all you want for them to do is just take your body home?

Christien on August 21, 2009 at 5:38 PM

Shinseki should be ashamed of himself for supporting this, but…

I’ll forgive him if he, as a veteran, subjects himself to the same directives that I, as a retiree, will be subject to.

NavyMustang on August 22, 2009 at 7:47 AM

As an Ex-Navy Medic, I knew that no matter what, those Marines under my watch were going to get care from me even if I got taken out while delivering. The idea that I would save a life, deliver a Man back to the States and their parents or wife just so some VA “Psychologist” can whisper “you don’t want to be a burden to your family” makes me so mad I am shaking with rage.

Now I have two sons. What do I tell them? One wants to fly the F-22, the other wants to run Nuclear power plants for the Navy. Both dangerous, highly technical jobs. What do I say to them? Good choice boys, but your Country won’t be there if something goes wrong, as you will be a negative budget item?

Not a dime of money for any other purpose, especially welfare or other programs, should be spent till our Vets are given care.

GunRunner on August 23, 2009 at 3:09 AM