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Health Care vs. the Value of Human Life

The “double jeopardy” scenario that describes how the disabled are not only already suffering with an illness or disability, but are also given a lower priority of health care treatments to preserve or improve the quality of their lives, has been widely debated in countries with universal health care. It does little good to pass health care reform that restricts denying insurance to those with underlying conditions when treatment is still withheld from these individuals as an inherent flaw within the system.

As if that’s not bad enough, the health advisor to the president, Ezekiel Emanuel, is proposing a system even more deleterious. His system, similar to the QALY, is “the complete lives system,” which not only allows for discrimination against the elderly and disabled, but also targets the very young, i.e., our children.

Emanuel says of his system: “When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.”

Leave it to American progressives to take the QALY one step further by defining quality of life as how useful you are to society -- that is, how likely you are to increase the government’s tax revenue, hence the emphasis on those between ages 15 and 40. Health care gets a lot cheaper by rationing care to all non-taxpayers.

According to Emanuel, “The death of a 20-year-old woman is intuitively worse than that of a two-month-old girl.” I doubt the parents of the two-month-old agree.

And, if you are a child with disabilities, the government has already completely given up on you. Emanuel believes “services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed.” What’s worse, since he does not believe in “guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason,” once the public option puts the private sector out of business, these types of life-changing services for children will no longer exist.

Years of research in treating children with autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and dyslexia are in jeopardy of being rendered null and void. Years of progress in passing anti-discrimination laws may be undone in one single bill.