A few key points with respect to neurosurgery procedures:
Patients over age 70 with government insurance will receive "comfort care", but not the full range of aneurysm treatment, stroke therapy, etc.According to this surgeon, this information is straight from Obama administration HHS officials, although not yet published.
Patients are referred to as "units", not patients.
Various devices currently approved by the FDA for "humanitarian use" and widely regarded by surgeons as medically safe and appropriate for clinical use will likely have that approval withdrawn to save money.
The physician summarizes the issue quite nicely:
You know, we always joke around -- 'it's not brain surgery' -- but I did nine years after medical school, I've been in training ten years, and now I have people who don't know a thing about what I'm doing telling me when I can and can't operate.(Read the full blog post, "Neurosurgeon Briefed by HHS". Link via @SonoDoc99.)
Anyone who's read Atlas Shrugged will recognize the similarity between this surgeon's observations and this quote from the fictional Dr. Hendricks (also a neurosurgeon):
Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward...Many Americans (including my own and Diana's parents) are over 70 years old yet in reasonably good health. They'd likely be denied life-saving neurosurgical care in the near future if these guidelines take effect.
But just don't call it rationing.
Note: There isn't any official confirmation from HHS on this, so we're still awaiting further information one way or another. It may also be that unfavorable publicity from the original story may lead HHS to reconsider these proposed guidelines.