"Your Life, Your Choices"--A Book I'd Actually Support Burning

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Posted: Aug 24, 2009 1:47 PM
The outspoken protests over ObamaCare's "end-of-life counseling" may have gotten the so-called "dealth panels" provision removed from the Senate's bill, but many still worry that a government-run plan will encourage end-of-life consultations with the elderly and chronically ill to contain overall costs--a valid concern given the Obama administration recently reinstated a program called "Your Life, Your Choices" for America's wounded veterans--mentioned in Greg's post earlier.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the VA program only pressures wounded vets to refuse life-saving treatment: 

“Your Life, Your Choices” presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political “push poll.” For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be “not worth living.”

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to “shake the blues.” There is a section which provocatively asks, “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug’?” There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as “I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family” and that the vet’s situation “causes severe emotional burden for my family.”

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

One can only imagine a soldier surviving the war in Iraq and returning without all of his limbs only to encounter a veteran’s health-care system that seems intent on his surrender.

I was not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update “Your Life, Your Choices” between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates. And as you might guess, only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society (now euphemistically known as “Compassion and Choices”).

I hope readers are as sickened by this "compassionate" program as I am.  This plan has been around for wounded vets since the Clinton administration.  When the Bush administration reviewed the program during its term in office, it suspended its use. For some reason, the Obama administration has reinstated the booklet this year; the order to re-institute the booklet was just issued last month.  Though the program is "voluntary," the VA has instructed its physicians to administer end of life counseling to all patients. 

The "Your Life, Your Choices" booklet is nothing more than a guide of tactics to push wounded vets into refusing treatment and we should all be ashamed for letting a program like this even exist in America.  It's a profound coincidence that this policy has started up again amidst the ongoing health care debate.  And knowing that the Obama administration purposefully reversed Bush's suspension of the program, it's increasingly hard to believe Obama when he claims he won't bend the cost curve downward at the expense of patients' care. 

The VA is a public option for health care provided by the government--does expanding this horrid policy seem like change any of us can believe in?