Monday, May 05, 2008

Feds Plan to Play God

While scientist Craig Venter intelligently designs new organisms by creating DNA, the Bush administration wants to provide guidance to health care decision makers who should live and die in a health care crisis. The assumption is a scarcity of medical resources will require providers to prioritize who receives care and who is left untreated.

With 47 million Americans without health insurance, a projected shortage of up to 238,000 physicians by 2025, emergency rooms already stretched to their limit and little excess hospital capacity, it won't take much of an outbreak to tax the system. The stockpile of bird flu vaccines is rather paltry for our nation of 300 million people. The federal plan calls for stockpiling drugs to treat 44 million Americans, only 15% of the population. States were encouraged to do likewise. By taking advantage of federal subsidies an additional 31 million could be covered. That brings the total to 75 million, only 25% of the population. That leaves 75% or 225 million citizens on their own. Consider who won't get treated.

Those out of luck are the people at high risk of death and a slim chance of long-term survival. But the recommendations get much more specific, and include:

— People older than 85.
— Those with severe trauma, which could include critical injuries from car crashes and shootings.
— Severely burned patients older than 60.
— Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.
— Those with a severe chronic disease, such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled

That last one will provide the biggest chunk of the 225 million Americans left out in the case of an H5N1 flu outbreak. With 21 million diabetics and 41 million pre-diabetics, that chronic condition offers a potential 62 million left behinders, at least care wise. Never mind that over 1/5 of people over 60 have diabetes. Lung and heart disease can take care of another 30 and 24 million people respectively. Hypertension will knock out 31% of the population between age 20 and 74. It disproportionately impacts minorities and the poor.

Let's not forget that chronic conditions impact the elderly at a greater rate. So while doctors are deciding who lives and dies, age and race discrimination will be in play. The report went on to say:

"If a mass casualty critical care event were to occur tomorrow, many people with clinical conditions that are survivable under usual health care system conditions may have to forgo life-sustaining interventions owing to deficiencies in supply or staffing."

This wording came out just in time for The Carlyle Group as it goes into a potential 24 wrongful death lawsuits from its LifeCare affiliate post Hurricane Katrina. They lived through an unprecedented disaster where first responders flipped the usual triage rescue protocol. This report should come in handy to the LifeCare legal team as it points its finger at rogue physicians and FEMA.

It could even help first responders who left two patients at a non-LifeCare hospital to die. The pair simply wasn't worth rescuing. Just as 225 million Americans aren't worth planning to save in the case of an H5N1 flu outbreak. So much for serving the people. It's time for government to have some Jeffersonian fear of the people.

'When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; When the government fears the people, there is liberty.' Thomas Jefferson

Welcome to tyranny...

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