Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Not so Nice NICE?
Pat Buchanan, always a powerful polemicist, proved his skills yet again yesterday, when published a powerful column yesterday, entitled, "Time to go, Grandpa."
Buchanan tells his readers about what he sees as a not-so-nice NICE. NICE is the oft-used acronym for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the Orwellian-ly named unit of Britain's National Health Service that sets the broader priorities for the NHS:
London's Telegraph reported Sunday that the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, known by its Orwellian acronym NICE, intends to slash by 95 percent the number of steroid injections, such as cortisone, given to people who suffer severe and chronic back pain.
"Specialists fear," said the Telegraph, "tens of thousands of people, mainly the elderly and frail, will be left to suffer excruciating levels of pain or pay as much as 500 pounds each for private treatment."
Now, twin this story with the weekend Washington Post story about Obamacare's "proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical treatment they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills," and there is little doubt as to what is coming.
The Post portrayed the controversy as stoked by "right-leaning radio" using explosive language like "guiding you in how to die" and government plans to "kill Granny." Yet, is not the logical purpose of paying doctors for house calls to the terminally ill, whose medical costs are killing Medicare, to suggest a pleasant and early exit from a pain-filled and costly life?
Statism's illogic exposed for all to see in F.A. Hayek's "The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism"
Let us suppose the NICE plan in Britain is adopted. And an 80-year-woman, living alone, with excruciating persistent back pain, is visited by a physician-counselor. What is he likely to advise? What conclusion would Grandma be led to by a doctor who sweetly explains what treatment she may still receive, what is being cut off, and what her other options might be?
What other options are there?
Needless to say, many well-meaning people will strongly disagree with Buchanan's column, and his larger Catholic-influenced "culture of life" argument. By all means, let's all hear the debate, back and forth.
But I must say that I was not reassured tonight as I watched Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC, who interviewed a Nebraska small businessman who had appeared in a lefty TV spot to denounce one of his US Senators, Democrat Ben Nelson. The Nebraska man has a perfect right to his opinions, of course, but then Maddow said, at the end, thanks for your time, and if I am ever in your small town--with the sort of smile that indicates that she has no intention of ever being in Nebraska, to say nothing of the man's little town--I will be sure to leave a big tip.
Thanks, Rachel. You have just reminded us that you are a limousine liberal, par excellence.
Posted by James P. Pinkerton at 9:28 PM