Obama's Ration Man: Ezekiel Emanuel
President Obamas chief advisor on healthcare is Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. In addition to Dr. Emanuel being a trained oncologist, an NIH Bioethicist and a fellow at the nonprofit bioethics research institute, The Hastings Center, he's also an avowed communitarian who advocates healthcare rationing.
In February 2009, he was tapped by the administration to work on the formulation of a national healthcare strategy. Officially, Dr. Emanuel is a special advisor to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget for health policy. In February Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that he is "working on (the) health care reform effort." He is "detailed" to the OMB spot and is still officially an employee of the NIH.
In Dr. Emanuels writings, he overtly advocates the rationing of healthcare based on age. In January 2009, just one month prior to taking his new position at the White House, Dr. Emanuel co-wrote an article entitled, Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions, in the British medical journal The Lancet. In this article he advocates a particular healthcare allocation system which he calls the complete lives system. He declared in The Lancet article that in healthcare, scarcity is the mother of allocation." He explains, This system (complete lives system) incorporates five principles: youngest-first, prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value. As such, it prioritizes younger people who have not yet lived a complete life and will be unlikely to do so without aid.
In the Lancet article he quotes the legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin, It is terrible when an infant dies, but worse, most people think, when a three-year-old child dies and worse still when an adolescent does. In other words, Dr Emanuel advocates health care rationing based on his concept of societal worth. He admits that age-based allocation is ageism. But justifies himself by saying that Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age, Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years. Treating 65 year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.
His views arent limited to this one article. In 1996, he wrote a short article for the Hastings Center, in which he expounded upon the role that communitarianism might play in healthcare. Dr Emanuels bio-ethical views are heavily fueled by adherence to this philosophy of communitarianism. Briefly put, communitarianism is a fairly new political philosophy that emphasizes the role of the community in defining and shaping individuals. Communitarianism focuses on the need to balance individual rights and interests with that of the community as a whole, and that individual people (or citizens) are shaped by the cultures and values of their communities.
In this article he infamously declared that services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia." This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Sadly, theres more. In 1998, he wrote a book entitled The Ends of Human Life: Medical Ethics in a Liberal Polity in which as his publisher explains He proposes an alternative ideology, a liberal communitarianism that imagines a federation of political communities dedicated to democratic deliberations to guide the formulation of laws and policies.
President Obama promises the American people that there wont be any rationing of healthcare and that our grandmothers will be safe. But with Dr. Emanuel as chief architect, can we be so sure?
(free subscription required)
The only thing that I can seem to get out of this is that, if you work for the government you and your family will be covered, however NOW you will pay more taxes so that WE do not have to pay insurance companies so much. The rest of us seem to be expendable. The only thing new here is higher taxes.
I don't know, Ray. I find it more than a little disturbing when someone who's influencing health care has such obvious disregard for human life. After reading Emanuel's words, the questions about rationing seem well founded.
Life is a liability...