Green Room

State Health Care Plan: Traveling Eternity Road – on a One-Way Ticket

posted at 4:08 am on August 13, 2009 by

This is so stunning, I’m still not sure what to make of it.

Several states already have the equivalent of ObamaCare’s “government option;” one of those is Oregon.

Oregon is a blue state… in the last two decades, a very blue state:

  • The last time it went for the Republican in a presidential race was a quarter century ago, for Ronald Reagan in 1984; Oregon even voted for Michael Dukakis in 1988.
  • The last time it elected a Republican governor was even longer: 31 years ago (Victor G. Atiyeh). Every major elected official in the executive branch is currently a Democrat.
  • Oregon has a Democratic senator (Ron Wyden, 100%) and about the most liberal of all “Republican” senators, Gordon Smith, 33%. (Smith’s rating from the liberal ADA is 60%, nearly twice his rating from the American Conservative Union.)
  • Oregon has five representatives in Congress; four of them (80%) are Democrats. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR, 75%) is the lone Republican, and he’s hardly a conservative.
  • Democrats currently hold a 60% majority in both the Oregon State Senate and the Oregon House of Representatives.

So it’s hardly surprising that Oregon enacted an assisted suicide law in 1994, and again in 1997, both times by a referendum of the citizens. And it’s equally unsurprising — but instructive — that it also passed the Oregon Health Plan, created by doctor and Democratic state Sen. John Kitzhaber; it went into effect in 1994. Kitzhaber rode the health plan into the governor’s officer, elected in 1994 and serving two terms.

The plan is called Oregon’s Medicare/Medicaid program, but adults not qualified for either program can nevertheless be enrolled into OHP Standard.

The program has not exactly worked as intended; after costs nearly doubled in its first six years, new enrollments were frozen for four years, from 2004 through 2008; Oregon then held a lottery, in which tens of thousands of applicants applied — for 3,000 slots.

The Oregon Health Plan, more or less a real-world model of ObamaCare, is under tremendous pressure to cut costs. They have found a unique way of doing so: They no longer pay for life-saving chemotherapy for cancer patients with less than a 5% chance of survival for five years… but they will pay to help kill them:

Barbara Wagner has one wish – for more time.

“I’m not ready, I’m not ready to die,” the Springfield woman said. “I’ve got things I’d still like to do.”

Her doctor offered hope in the new chemotherapy drug Tarceva, but the Oregon Health Plan sent her a letter telling her the cancer treatment was not approved.

Instead, the letter said, the plan would pay for comfort care, including “physician aid in dying,” better known as assisted suicide.

“I told them, I said, ‘Who do you guys think you are?’ You know, to say that you’ll pay for my dying, but you won’t pay to help me possibly live longer?’ ” Wagner said. [Hat tip to Sachi]

Dear readers, this is your future under ObamaCare.

But why in the world would the Oregon Health Plan brazenly suggest that she kill herself? That’s easily explained:

[Dr. William Toffler] said the state has a financial incentive to offer death instead of life: Chemotherapy drugs such as Tarceva cost $4,000 a month while drugs for assisted suicide cost less than $100.

[Dr. Som Saha, chairman of the commission that sets policy for the Oregon Health Plan] said state health officials do not consider whether it is cheaper for someone in the health plan to die than live. But he admitted they must consider the state’s limited dollars when dealing with a case such as Wagner’s.

“If we invest thousands and thousands of dollars in one person’s days to weeks, we are taking away those dollars from someone,” Saha said.

It’s government medicine; poor Barbara Wagner has no place else to go.

Adding insult to accessory to manslaughter, it appears that the Oregon government health bureaucracy hasn’t even kept up with the advance of modern medicine:

The Oregon Health Plan simply hasn’t kept up with dramatic changes in chemotherapy, said Dr. David Fryefield of the Willamette Valley Cancer Center.

Even for those with advanced cancer, new chemotherapy drugs can extend life.

Yet the Oregon Health Plan only offers coverage for chemo that cures cancer — not if it can prolong a patient’s life.

“We are looking at today’s … 2008 treatment, but we’re using 1993 standards,” Fryefield said. “When the Oregon Health Plan was created, it was 15 years ago, and there were not all the chemotherapy drugs that there are today.”

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight. So… under government medicine, Barack H. Obama’s grandmother shouldn’t get a hip replacement, because she’s going to die soon anyway; Sarah Palin’s son Trig, who has Down Syndrome, wouldn’t get long-term treatment because Down is incurable; and Barbara Wagner begs for cancer treatment — and instead gets a not-so-subtle hint that she should contact a physician about how to “reduce the surplus population” by committing suicide.

There is really no nice way to spin this.

Fortunately, the company that manufactures Tarceva, Genentech, has decided to let Wagner have it for free… for now. But what about all the other Barbara Wagners in Oregon?

ObamaCare: Change you could die for.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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Pretty incredible … and to think the other side actually has the chutzpah to claim we’re being fearmongers about this.

HondaV65 on August 14, 2009 at 1:37 PM