See if this doesn't chill you down to your core.
A pro-Obamacare doctor wrote in Wendesday's Los Angeles Times that the healthcare law may do away with obstacles that "make dying much harder than it has to be."
Uh, is Obamacare making dying easier a good thing?
This doctor thinks so. He writes, "the state of end-of-life car in America is marked by too many treatments and too little attention to alleviating pain," adding that the amount of time and money spent on healthcare would make one think that people can be made to live forever.
Medical miracles abound: antibiotics, sophisticated surgery, organ transplantation, artificial kidneys, mechanical ventilators, implantable defibrillators and pumps to assist failing hearts. But medical science has yet to make one person immortal -- although from the way the healthcare is paid for and delivered, you would think we had.
In the current system, he complains, insurers "reimburse hospitals and doctors for treatments regardless of whether they have been proved to be effective." With Obamacare surviving a Supreme Court challenge, the era of easy reimbursements is ending.
The Affordable Care Act advances a new approach, called accountable care, that aligns financial incentives with high-quality treatment. This key feature of the law transforms healthcare by making local health systems -- made up of doctors, hospitals, clinics, laboratories and imaging facilities -- responsible for the outcomes of care and the costs for the population of people they predominantly serve.
Doctors will be on the hook financially if they prescribe treatments that aren't guaranteed to work. Obviously, they'll cut back on such "wasteful treatments," as our good doctor calls them, that "make dying much harder than it has to be."
The doctor says that the withholding of these medical treatments is not rationing or death panels, it "gives people every chance of living longer and well and, when the time eventually comes, allows them to die peacefully."
What if patients want those special or experimental or expensive treatments in an attempt to lengthen their life? If insurers won't reimburse doctors for them anymore--a decision presumably made by some group of professionals or the government--the patient dies. A panel makes a decision that ultimately results in death for the patient. Sure, the phrase "death panel" does not appear in the health care laws. It doesn't need to. As the author of the piece shows , they'll form on their own.