July 15, 2010
Last week we learned that President Obama made a recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick, a man who has been called a one-man death panel, repeatedly has stated his support for rationed healthcare.
What will this appointment mean to those of us who believe that every life has dignity, regardless of its stage or health status? One clear concern, in addition to rationed healthcare, is assisted suicide.
A recent letter to the editor written by an Oregon doctor drove home this critical connection between assisted suicide and rationed healthcare.
...remember the names Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Wagner was an Oregon resident who died in 2008. The Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) refused to pay for a cancer drug to possibly prolong her life and offered to pay for her suicide instead. This position saved the plan money. Stroup had a similar experience. The plan would not pay for a drug to prolong his life and ease his pain, but would pay for his suicide. He said: 'This is my life they're playing with.' In both cases, the Oregon Health Plan's position was only possible because assisted suicide is legal in Oregon. With assisted suicide now at issue in Idaho, will you and your families be the next Randy Stroups? Will you be the next Barbara Wagners?
The decision regarding the legality of assisted suicide in the U.S. currently resides with the states. A number of states have chosen to make it legal, among them Oregon, Washington and Montana. Idaho currently is considering similar legislation.
Advocacy groups have waged strong campaigns in areas that potentially could legalize assisted suicide. In Pennsylvania, a group recently has been posting controversial billboards advocating for the legalization of assisted suicide. Another such advocacy group is Compassion and Choices," which has been lobbying in Idaho.
Every person, regardless of race, age, health, etc., has an inherent right to life. Sadly, it is becoming more and more obvious as we begin to see the new healthcare law rolled out that the Presidents health care regime is not about respecting a person's dignity or inherent rights, especially that most basic right to life from conception to natural death.