Recently I asked a question that needs to be answered in the context of our health care debate: Given that the majority of health care dollars are spent on people in the last stages of their lives, shouldn’t we be talking about who gets to decide whether or not Grandpa gets “life-saving” treatment?
We’ll be reading more about this as time goes, but now, this question has come up in the context of disaster planning in the event of an influenza pandemic:
Doctors know some patients needing lifesaving care won’t get it in a flu pandemic or other disaster. The gut-wrenching dilemma will be deciding who to let die.
Now, an influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn’t be treated. They include the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with severe dementia.
The wealthiest among us will always have access to what they want and need — nothing new there. But in order to create a safety net for the rest of us, this is a question that will not have any easy answers.
So let’s frame the question before someone does it for us. It comes down to this, IMHO:
Which do you want?
A) A for-profit corporation (answerable to its shareholders) deciding who lives and dies?
B) A not-for-profit government entity (answerable to the voters) deciding who lives and dies?
Anyone want to take a crack at this?