- - Monday, September 29, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Much is being made of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel’s essay in The Atlantic, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” where he argues that dying at 75 would be best for everyone. He’s entitled to his opinion, of course, but what makes this especially concerning is his role as an architect of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare), his position as director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and his close relationship with President Obama as an adviser on health issues.

When you’re even one of those things, let alone all three, nothing you say or write in public on the issue you’re charged with is personal.

The ensuing debate has understandably centered on the craven notion that individuals over the age of 75 are somehow not as viable or worthy as those who are younger. In fact, Dr. Emanuel makes that point specifically: “We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged, but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”

There are innumerable examples, of course, of older individuals, well-known and the undiscovered, who live full and impactful lives well into their 90s and even 100s. President Reagan’s Brandenburg speech (“Tear down this wall.”) was delivered when he was 76. The author Ray Bradbury, wrote every day through his 80s, until his death at 91.

Kimani Maruge of Kenya is the oldest person to attend primary school, enrolling in the 1st grade at 84. A 96-year-old, Mohr Keet, is the world’s oldest bungee jumper. And at 77 years old, Minoru Saito, is the oldest to circumnavigate the globe. Just this month, 91-year-old Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former secretary of state, just released his 17th major work, “World Order.”

Focusing on this aspect of vitality at every age, while compelling, is a mistake. While presented by Dr. Emanuel as his personal intention to die at 75, this is, in fact, a message for all Americans. His goal is to plant the seed that limiting our lifetimes should be a serious consideration in itself, and weaved into our own health care decisions.

Why? Because being older is an expensive proposition, especially if the government is paying the bill.

In the context of Obamacare, this is the beginning of a conditioning of older Americans and their families to accept the notion that if you have a chronic disease or an injury or weakness that’s expensive to treat, and you’re 75 or older, perhaps the less-expensive hospice is the better option.

Supporters of Obamacare strike back at the idea that Dr. Emanuel would approve of “death panels” or even rationing general health care. His supporters point to the fact that he has written a great deal about being against euthanasia, which is the direct involvement of doctors or a medical system in causing a patient’s death.

Perhaps Dr. Emanuel expects that position to cloud the truth of what he suggests now, which is still the facilitating of a patient’s death without a physician or medical professional acting in a proactive way. Instead, limiting or denying certain health care to patients, promising “comfort” as one dies, protects the system from the repugnance of active “euthanasia.”

His dance around the difference? “Once I have lived to 75, my approach to my health care will completely change. I won’t actively end my life. But I won’t try to prolong it, either,” he declares in the essay.

Welcome to Obamacare and single-payer. Just change the personal pronouns and you’ve got the template for “end-of-life” counseling, with the patient providing their own personal death panel.

Most older Americans, of course, reject the notion that dying is their duty. Dr. Emanuel’s message, therefore, is also for family caretakers, those who also need to be convinced that it’s best for Mom to not get that pacemaker because, after all, she’s 75 already, and isn’t that long enough?

In his article, and as a message to everyone in a family with someone 75 or older, Dr. Emanuel insists health care for the older among us is a waste of precious health care resources. Part of his commitment to some larger notion (read single-payer, government-delivered health care) is a personal refusal of medical care. For him, he says, no cancer treatment after 75, no flu shots, no colonoscopies (starting at 65), no prostate-cancer screening, no pacemaker and no antibiotics, because, he assures us, “death from infections is quick and relatively painless.”

Apparently, we are supposed to believe that Dr. Emanuel decided his personal point of view on life and death has nothing to do with everyone else, and is simply be something the American people needed to know. That’s how much contempt the left has for your grasp of reality.

Considering his position and influence at the federal level, it strains credulity to suggest that this attitude is not attached to the continuation of his work for the Obama administration, and its desired outcome.

This ‘Die on Schedule’ mentality, of course, is an obscenity meant only for the Little People. Those planning to sweep you off to that quiet good night will no doubt exempt themselves. Again.

Tammy Bruce is a radio talk-show host, author and Fox News contributor.

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