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Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis
Senior Citizens Must Stand Up to Lies that Health
Reform Bill Will Allow Government to Kill Them
Right-wing stoops to new low in attacks on health
reform to protect profits of insurance companies
By Tucker Sutherland, editor & publisher,
Aug. 1, 2009 – The political right wing is sinking
to new lows in a desperate attempt to protect insurance companies from
losing any profits due to health care reform advocated by President
Obama. And, they are targeting senior citizens as the voter group most
likely to swallow their lie, which is that the legislation will
“pressure the elderly to end their lives prematurely.” That is a lie and
seniors must not fall for it.
That statement was by Betsy McCaughey, a former
Republican lieutenant governor of New York state. After not being asked
to rejoin the Republican ticket in New York, she changed parties to run
for governor as a Democrat. After she failed to receive the Democratic
nomination, she became the candidate for the Liberal Party. After losing
the race she joined a conservative “think tank.”
Maybe the worst in this campaign to frighten
seniors has been Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who
suggested the Democratic plan will “put seniors in a position of being
put to death by their government."
Congresswoman Foxx told her lie on the floor of the
House of Representatives. But, many have become accustomed to the
bitter, untruthful rants by Foxx, and she is getting less attention than
About Death Panel in Health Care Reform Bill
Snow takes a close look at end of life proposal -
Click here to view at ABC
“Betsy McCaughey’s recent commentary on health care
reform in various media outlets is rife with gross—and even
cruel—distortions,” said AARP Executive Vice President John Rother.
“Ms. McCaughey has again launched her customary
broadside attack against comparative effectiveness research. She
describes this term as ‘code’ for ‘limiting care based on a patient’s
age.’ In fact the term for that is ‘age rating,’ a practice used by
insurance companies to discriminate against older Americans against
which AARP is vigorously fighting, and we look forward to her next
column to help the cause.”
McCaughey had written in the Wall Street Journal,
“The assault against seniors began with the stimulus package in
February. Slipped into the bill was substantial funding for comparative
effectiveness research, which is generally code for limiting care based
on the patient’s age. Economists are familiar with the formula, where
the cost of a treatment is divided by the number of years (called QALYs,
or quality-adjusted life years) that the patient is likely to benefit.
In Britain, the formula leads to denying treatments for older patients
who have fewer years to benefit from care than younger patients.”
AARP’s Rother said, “‘Comparative effectiveness
research,’ on the other hand, is a technical term that just means giving
doctors and patients the ability to compare different kinds of
treatments to find out which one works best for which patient.
“Some estimates say that only about half of all
therapies that patients receive have been backed up by head-to-head
comparisons with alternatives. While our country spends more than $2
trillion a year on health care, we spend less than 0.1 percent on
evaluating how that care works compared to other options.
“This research has been around (although sadly not
enough) for decades, enjoying support from political leaders of both
parties, doctors, patients, and consumer advocacy groups.
“The main opponents of this research are those
groups with a vested interest in a health care system that wastes
billions of dollars each year on ineffective or unnecessary drugs,
treatments or tests. Given Ms. McCaughey’s position as a Director of a
medical device producer, I would hope that any potential conflict of
interest has not influenced her commentary.
But, Roth says he is most concerned about
McCaughey’s mistaken statements about seniors and end-of-life care. He
said, “More concerning, Ms. McCaughey’s criticism misinterprets
legislation that would actually help empower individuals and doctors to
make their own choices on end-of-life care.
“This measure would allow Medicare to pay doctors
for taking the time to talk with individuals about difficult end-of-life
care decisions. It would help provide people with better information on
the positives and negatives—both physical and financial—that different
treatments can mean for them and their families.
“Facing a terminal disease or debilitating
accident, some people will choose to take every possible life-saving
measure in the hopes that treatment or even a cure will allow them more
time with their families. Others will decide that additional treatment
would impose too great a burden—emotional, physical and otherwise—on
themselves and their families, declining extraordinary measures and
instead choosing care to manage their discomfort. Either way, it should
be their choice.
“This measure would not only help people make the
best decisions for themselves, but also better ensure that their wishes
“To suggest otherwise is a gross, and even cruel,
distortion—especially for any family that has been forced to make the
difficult decisions on care for loved ones approaching the end of their
It is shocking that people like a congresswoman and
a former state lieutenant governor would tell such blatant and
Senior citizens must speak up. We must let those
who think we are too dumb to know the truth that we are not going to
accept their lies. Write letters to your newspaper, contact your
congressman and senators, speak up seniors. Enough is enough.
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