Will Old Folks Get in the Way of our Brave New World?

Washington bureaucrats hoped something wouldn't see the light of day until it was too late. Buried in the stimulus bill is the framework for rationing medical care to the elderly. The part Obama and his cohorts are talking about publicly -- electronic medical records -- sounds great: no more having to fill out annoying paperwork at the doctor's office or hospital when you are ailing.

But according to the provision's author, former Health and Human Services director nominee (and tax cheat) Tom Daschle, there's much more, including the newly-created bureaucracy of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. What will the NCHIT be doing? Making sure your doctor gives you the treatment it deems to be efficient and cost-effective. And if your doctor doesn't comply? Well, that part is still a bit fuzzy.

What is clear is that the elderly will be the ones to bear the brunt of this brave new world. Older citizens shouldn't bother treating those ailments that come with age. After all, being retired and collecting Social Security and Medicare, they're not as productive as younger members of society. And Social Security and Medicare, despite Democrats' protestations to the contrary when George Bush tried to do something about it, are on thin ice as it is. So if the proposed Federal Council does not think a treatment is cost-effective due to the patient's age, then the patient will have to do without for the good of the collective. You will assimilate.

This already happens in the UK. But according to one medical ethics expert there, that's not enough. Those who suffer from dementia, for example, are not only wasting their own lives and the lives of their families, but they are wasting precious resources from the National Health Service, and so they should just get on with dying. Sooner rather than later, thank you very much.

Joe Biden told us it's our patriotic duty to pay higher taxes. Will dying off so we don't use up precious resources be our next patriotic duty? Perhaps we can consider a set "expiration date," like in the movie Logan's Run: when the crystal on your hand turns black, it's off to Carousel.

I'm going to take a page from the liberal playbook and use a personal example to put a face on the problem. A few years ago, there was a devastating fire at my mother's home. My mother was unable to get down the stairs and was forced to jump out the second story window, breaking both legs and shattering her feet. On the first day after her accident, we were told that the worst case scenario was that she might have to have both legs amputated. However, her orthopedist managed to put her legs and feet back together. She spent many months recuperating and now, while she will never be back to "normal" and still endures daily pain, she can once again walk without assistance and go about her daily routine. As a popular "English as a second language" teacher at a middle school in a nearby town, she continues to be a productive, contributing member of society.

But what if Tom Daschle's plan had been in place three years ago? Already in her sixties, would my mother have been told that the first possibility -- amputation of both legs -- was the only option open to her because of her age? Would she be sitting at home in a wheelchair today dealing with the onset of severe depression because her age dictated that even trying to repair her broken legs and feet was not a possibility and she could no longer do anything for herself? Would she, as UK medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock suggests, be better off "offing" herself so that she wouldn't waste everyone's time and taxpayer resources?

Nancy Pelosi's contraception measures were removed from the stimulus bill because she let it slip that "too many people" around is not cost-effective. Will the Daschle healthcare provision be struck out too, before it's too late?

Considering that supporters of the bill like Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) didn't seem to even know the provision exists, I wouldn't count on it.

Pam Meister is the editor for FamilySecurityMatters.org and a contributor to Pajamas Media. The opinions expressed here are her own.