Friday, December 31, 2010

Wolf On Death Panels

Dr. Milton Wolf has a new OpEd in the Washington Times, "Lies, damn lies and death panels".

In particular, he makes a powerful point about the new government policy of "encouraging" end-of-life counseling:
...[T]here is nothing certainly inappropriate about discussing end-of-life care with patients so long as the patient and their family can maintain complete trust that their doctor is providing caring -- and this is crucial -- uncoerced advice. Quite the contrary, it absolutely should be done, but it's a far too important part of the doctor-patient relationship to permit the government to determine how and when. These difficult decisions are undermined unless they are made freely by the patient and his or her family...

Not only have I, as a physician, counseled many families in these trying end-of-life times - a heart-rending and life-changing experience for all of us involved -- but I learned firsthand of their importance when my father, himself a physician, made his own wishes known to us in the final months of his life. If ever a family's decision should be held sacred from the government, this is it.
(Read the full text of "Lies, damn lies and death panels".)

Once the government starts specifying which medical options are "reasonable" or "effective", it undermines physicians' ability to be honest advocates for their patients and instead turns them into agents of their government paymasters.

The end result: Bureaucrats then determines whether patients live -- or die. But just don't call them "death panels".