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  • This Is What Government Rationed Health Care Looks Like

    The Oregon Health Plan is a government run health insurance option that, like some current health plans being pushed in Washington, is designed to increase access to health care and contain health care costs. The cost of the OHP far outstripped original estimates so new enrollment in the program was closed from mid-2004 until early 2008, when a lottery-based system was introduced to limit new enrollments. As this June 2008 local news story from KATU in Portland shows, the Oregon Health Plan also found other ways to limit costs as well:


    Here is the text of  KATU’s report:

    Barbara Wagner has one wish – for more time.

    “I’m not ready, I’m not ready to die,” the Springfield woman said. “I’ve got things I’d still like to do.”

    Her doctor offered hope in the new chemotherapy drug Tarceva, but the Oregon Health Plan sent her a letter telling her the cancer treatment was not approved.

    Instead, the letter said, the plan would pay for comfort care, including “physician aid in dying,” better known as assisted suicide.

    “I told them, I said, ‘Who do you guys think you are?’ You know, to say that you’ll pay for my dying, but you won’t pay to help me possibly live longer?’ ” Wagner said.

    Dr. Som Saha, chairman of the commission that sets policy for the Oregon Health Plan, said Wagner is making an “unfortunate interpretation” of the letter and that no one is telling her the health plan will only pay for her to die.

    One critic of assisted suicide calls the message disturbing nonetheless.

    “People deserve relief of their suffering, not giving them an overdose,” said Dr. William Toffler.

    He said the state has a financial incentive to offer death instead of life: Chemotherapy drugs such as Tarceva cost $4,000 a month while drugs for assisted suicide cost less than $100.

    Saha said state health officials do not consider whether it is cheaper for someone in the health plan to die than live. However, he admitted they must consider the state’s limited dollars when dealing with a case such as Wagner’s.

    “If we invest thousands and thousands of dollars in one person’s days to weeks, we are taking away those dollars from someone,” Saha said.

    But the medical director at the cancer center where Wagner gets her care said some people may have incredible responses to treatment.

    The Oregon Health Plan simply hasn’t kept up with dramatic changes in chemotherapy, said Dr. David Fryefield of the Willamette Valley Cancer Center.

    Even for those with advanced cancer, new chemotherapy drugs can extend life.

    Yet the Oregon Health Plan only offers coverage for chemo that cures cancer – not if it can prolong a patient’s life.

    “We are looking at today’s … 2008 treatment, but we’re using 1993 standards,” Fryefield said. “When the Oregon Health Plan was created, it was 15 years ago, and there were not all the chemotherapy drugs that there are today.”

    Patients like Wagner can appeal a decision if they are denied coverage. Wagner appealed twice but lost both times.

    However, her doctors contacted the pharmaceutical company, Genentech, which agreed to give her the medication without charging her. Doctors said that is unusual for a company to give away such an expensive medication.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to This Is What Government Rationed Health Care Looks Like

    1. publicoption says:

      1. Don't insurance companies follow the same money-saving logic?

      2. Why look at Oregon rather than Britain's NHS, or the Belgian, or French, or Swedish, or Norwegian, etc. systems? That is, one that has a decent track record on a large scale?

    2. A. Terranova, Ormond says:

      Enter the Age of the Great Perversion: Beyond 1984

      When a culture decides it is "morally/ethically" acceptable to determine who lives and who dies, then we become a culture of death.

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    4. Michelle, Louisiana says:

      I wish they had looked at Britain's NHS. It has been rationing care much longer than Oregon, and on a vastly wider scale. I saw this first hand while living in Britain. Publicoption doesn't have a clue about Britain if they think it has a decent track record.

    5. Roger S., Ma. says:

      Depending on your policy, you could sue the insurance co., or threaten that your heirs will.

      The insurance co. would probably not dare to offer assisted suicide, would at least offer palliative care.

      You could, as a last resort, threaten the insurer with bad publicity.

      Try any of that on the Government?! Good luck!

      UK, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Sweden, Norway? They're all in the red, operating with rationing and/or massive, and forever increasing, government subsidies, call that taxes!

      That doctor is some "piece of work"; where did they dig him up?

      "We don't think about INVESTING –???– our health care $$$ in that way"! This woman had been pleading for her life! Gross!

      "publicoption", I'm beginning to hope you'll get your wish, and you'll be first. I'll be waiting with my camera. You'll be famous!

    6. JoAnn LakeCharles LA says:

      This healthcare bill will cost so much, it will add so much to our deficit, we could face high inflation because of this, our country is going bankrupt; look at how the value of our dollar has diminished.

      Logic dictates that in order to give care to so many people, with not enough doctors, there will be waiting lists, lines, ques, and rationing. The efficiency of care will be negatively impacted. I have lived under socialized healthcare in Germany and I know what I am talking about. There will not be enough doctors. A government committee will dictate what type of care you will get, not a doctor. If you have a health crisis and you need to see a physician in a quick manner, good luck. You will die. You think the government will care if you die while waiting to see a doctor? The bureaucrats have padded this bill with billions of dollars for non-healthcare items. As usual there is lots of Pork. Their philosophy is why not stick it to the taxpayers again? They are untouchable – what can we do to them? After all, we are just dumb citizens, right? Do you honestly think these government officials know what they are talking about? Of course not. Get real. They will be long gone and we will suffer for years due to their clueless mistakes and lack of leadership. Their continual banal platitudes sound just like a used car salesman’s spiel. Do you want to pay for abortions and free healthcare for illegal aliens? I have read a lot of this bill; I have worked in the legal field and I can tell they have worded this in a very convoluted manner in order to obfuscate the real facts. There are a lot of very important issues in this bill that have not been discussed on television Do you think multi-millionaire like Pelosi knows what a middle class American’s life is like? They are so out of touch with reality. Physicians wages will be lower; without competition, the quality of healthcare will suffer.

      Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.

      Look at the chaos going on right now due to the confusion as to what is in the bill. Are they talking about the Kennedy healthcare bill too? Will they combine these? If they start out of the gate with this type of confusion, think what it will be like later. Most of these politicians do not know what is in the bill. Obama does not know what is in the bill, all the while why he tries to cram it down out throat. Imagine, we pay their salaries and they are trying to make us do something we do not want to do. I thought they were supposed to represent us! They are not listening to the American people. They do not care. When did the constitution change? What is wrong with this picture? That is absolutely horrible. What is the rush? I feel because there is so much they want to hide. Obama said he would provide transparency. I don’t see transparency, do you? When the greedy banks and investment firms were in trouble, due to their own greed, greed, greed, our government gave them billions of our tax dollars. Was our government looking out for us then? We could have used those funds for healthcare. Look how the investment firms are still giving out millions of dollars in bonuses and they are just thumbing their noses at the government. Our government cannot run the Cash for Clunkers program in an efficient manner; the bailouts are a laugh, look at the post office problem. Medicare and social security are going bankrupt. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the mortgage problem and our huge financial crisis. All you have to do is look at the past history of this government to predict the future. You have to be stupid to not see the writing on the wall. Americans, where is your backbone and your spine? We are like meek sheep going to slaughter. I have been writing to all of our politicians, telling them we do not approve of this bill. What about you? Have you done your duty? Or are you a typical apathetic, lazy, non-patriotic non-contributor? Too busy to take a few minutes out of your day to save our country? Shame on you. I have lived in other countries and have seen socialism. If you do not wake up now, you will be living like other third world countries before you know it. We are losing our voices and freedoms. If you do not speak up now, you will be sorry.

      My father lived during the Great Depression. He was a self made man and worked hard all his life to create success. No one gave him anything. He was extremely hard working, honorable, ethical, and would not have taken a free handout. He served in World War II to protect our freedoms, for he loved our country and was very patriotic. If he were alive today, he would be so shocked, disappointed, sad and ashamed to see what this great country has come to.

    7. F. Sumter says:

      How can this be? This story must be poor reporting by some media stooge of the right-wing fascist (dare I say Nazi) mob! The Heaven-blessed water-walking progressives who create universal health care systems could never allow such a callous response to a poor suffering cancer victim. Surely they would merely say the proper incantation and like Christ with the loaves and fishes provide abundant and unlimited health care for all. To be certain, such marvelous and munificent beings would ever establish a "death panel" which would propose the propriety of cheap suicide over expensive care merely to save taxpayer dollars. Rationing health care? The ONE has assured us this cannot be — and we all know that a paragon of the Chicago school of politics would never lie.

    8. Roger D, Henderson, says:

      Why is that we do not have enough Doctors.

      We have plenty of lawyers.

      I sure it’s not because there is not a need for them or that their pay rate would be insufficient.

      I have always wondered if the numbers of doctors were regulated to create a shortage.

      Perhaps someone else out there would know more about this.

    9. G says:

      Oregon is a bit different from most states in that euthanasia is legal. I imagine that factors in there.

    10. Barbara A. in Clevel says:

      Oh so very well said, JoAnn and F. Sumter! Ditto that!

    11. Ed Benson says:

      If there is anyone out there that still thinks the public option is good for America after seeing this- they deserve what they get. The problem is the rest of us don't. Wake up America and stop the madness!

    12. Douglas Knight Littl says:

      Daniel Hanan, member of the EU Parliament, warns the U.S. about Uk style healthcare via the NHS, & wonders aloud why a free country(read non Socialist) would want to do that to itself. The current HR version of the bill HR2300, has several disturbing aspects which will kill all private insur. by 2013 by the latest. Also, is realtime Gov't access to your bank acc't. The UK bill was started when wartime rationing was a necess. fact of life, but it never went away. Comparos are made against the French sys., but the French were finally forced to reinstate a private insur. option, which the U.S. plan doesn't do, but rather phases out the private plans totally by 2013.

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    23. B. Davis, Michigan says:

      I agree with publicoption…we need to look at other studies. This is one example, not a large scale study. And " Even for those with advanced cancer, new chemotherapy drugs can extend life." is a very deceptive statement. I am an RN, and have had family and patients die of cancer, all types. Do you know how long these drugs can "extend" life…a few weeks, months? And that may mean lying in a bed vomiting endlessly, unable to talk, interact, or eat or do anything. Sure, you're breathing I guess, maybe with tubes or not. What "miracle" drugs do they speak of? Where are the statistics and empirical evidence of survival rates? Where are the side effects listed? Are these "miracle" drug makers being being fair in such prices? What on EARTH could possibly need to cost $4000 monthly? Do they need to extract it from outer space or something? I think the culprits need to be identified here. I'm not sure much of ANYthing is worth that price. And if I had that cancer? I'd rather you foot the bill for me to go visit the Cayman Islands, to have a beautiful trip or something, to be able to enjoy some food & friends and life before my body gives it up.

      Lets see some REAL research statistics here!

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