Quality Indicators for People with Dementia

Here’s something new for pro-life Americans to be concerned with that showed up in the manager’s amendment to H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act; click here to download a copy.

A new section was added that should cause everyone to question where this so-called “health care reform bill” is heading. The new section is called “Quality Indicators for Care of People with Alzheimer’s Disease” [Sec. 1446].

The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall develop quality indicators for the provision of medical services to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and plan for implementing the indicators to measure the quality of care provided for people with these conditions [Sec. 1446(a)].

Although the wording is ambiguous since this will be a plan that the secretary of Health and Human Services will be creating, it would appear that the services to be provided to patients with mental illnesses will be determined on the quality indicators that are developed. Will this mean that people with a “lesser” so-called “quality of life” be denied medical services? This is but one sign of the intended health care rationing to come if H.R. 3962 were to be enacted.

Meanwhile, an amendment was introduced by Representative John Boehner (OH) (click here to read it) in order to substitute H.R. 3962. It would strike everything after the enacting clause of H.R. 3962 and insert an entirely new bill. This amendment would codify a permanent ban on tax-payer funds from being used to fund abortions and it will codify a conscience protection clause.

The Boehner amendment would explicitly prohibit tax-payer funding of elective abortions, including any monies held in a trust fund to which tax-payer funds were deposited [Sec. 602 of Boehner amendment, amending Title 1 of the United States Code]. Additionally, the amendment would provide for conscience protection by stipulating a penalty for anyone or any entity which discriminates against an individual or any health care entity (e.g. a hospital) for their refusal to “provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions” [Sec. 602 of Boehner amendment, amending Title 1 of the United States Code].

During the summer, Representative Bart Stupak (MI) and Representative Joseph Pitts (PA) submitted an amendment to H.R. 3200 that would explicitly ban usage of tax-payer funds for abortions (click here to read it). They would like to introduce the same amendment to H.R. 3962, but speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi (CA) is trying to push a “rule” so that there can be no vote on additional amendments to H.R. 3962.

Contact your representative today to tell them to support pro-life amendments and to vote NO on Speaker Pelosi’s rule that would ban a vote on pro-life amendments to H.R. 3962. You can find information on how to call your representative on the National Right to Life webpage by clicking here. This is imperative. The vote on Pelosi’s rule is expected to happen on Friday night (November 6) and the vote on the whole bill is expected to happen on Saturday night (November 7).

Reforming Health Care Reform

Apparently, public opinion still matters to the current presidential administration. Yesterday (August 16), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that a government-run health plan is not an “essential element” of the so-called health care reform bill. This reversal comes in the face of boisterous objections to HR 3200 at town hall meetings nationwide as members of Congress have been confronted with questions and outrage. Click here to read a full article about the reversal on a government-run health plan.

But don’t let the this action lure you into complacency. Your voice still needs to be heard. In case you’re still not sure if government-run health care is a good idea or not, I want to bring your attention to the story of Betty Figg in England where nearly all health care is provided by the National Health Service. Long-term care under the NHS also includes social services and oversight of whether a person is in a nursing home (or care home in British parlance).

In 2008, after injuring herself in falls while in the hospital, Mrs. Figg was admitted into a nursing home due to dementia.  Betty’s daughter, Rosalind, noticed that her mother’s care was lacking (click here to see article about Betty’s abduction by the authorities). Rosalind and her partner made renovations to their home in order  to adequately care for her mother.

The application to bring Mrs. Figg home was denied in November 2008. In April 2009, Rosalind decided to remove her mother from the nursing home. She brought Mrs. Figg home to care for her. Shortly thereafter, in a scene reminiscent of a raid on a drug den, police arrived to forcibly remove Mrs. Figg from her daughter’s home, and return her to the nursing home.

More details about the event which led up to the police action can be found in a follow-up article by clicking here. Additional stories about how English nursing homes are caring for their patients can be found by clicking here.

The story of Betty Figg has a happy ending as she was allowed in June by social services to go home with her daughter Rosalind after Rosalind met the requirements set forth by social services. Mrs. Figg was welcomed home by family members and she is enjoying life in the comfort of her own home once again. Click here to read how this story ended.

Maybe it’s just me, but…now is not the time to breathe a sigh of relief…now is the time to continue to share the truth about the so-called health care reform with our friends and families. People need to hear the truth about real people like Betty and Rosalind. Do you want the state to decide whether or not you can take care of your own mother? Are you ready for rationing of health care services based on, for example, how many hip replacements have already been performed in a given year? Or based on some arbitrary mathematical formula that determines just how valuable your life supposedly is worth? (I’ll address this in a future blog.)

Click on these resources to get more information: AUL Action, Stop the Abortion Mandate, FRC Action, The Heritage Foundation here and here, and National Right to Life.

Get the facts…then get involved.

Assisted Suicide in the United Kingdom

I recently spent two days at the 2nd International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.  Attendees from around the world gathered to learn the latest information on what is happening in the battle to stop the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. In Part 1 of my observations, I’d like to start with some information from a speaker from the United Kingdom.

Dr. Peter Saunders, director of the Care Not Killing Alliance, spoke about past and current efforts in the UK to legalize assisted suicide. He noted the following as important legislative steps towards where the UK is presently:

  • 1961 Suicide Act — Suicide was legal, but assisting with a suicide was still illegal.
  • 1965 Murder Act — Outlawed the death penalty, but the intentional killing of another person was still illegal.
  • 2005 Mental Capacity Act — It is a crime for a doctor to treat a patient against an advance refusal (living will in the US).

After several failed attempts to introduce bills to legalize assisted suicide, the main pro-euthanasia organization in the UK (Dignity in Dying) changed tactics.  Since so many advances have been made in the area of palliative care and pain mitigation, the focus has switched from cancer patients with uncontrollable pain to people with neurological diseases – the argument being that they should have the option to choose when to die. In 2006, the Assisted Dying Bill was introduced in the Parliament.  The main points of the bill included:

  • This was physician-assisted suicide (modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act), not euthanasia.
  • Nurses would be involved in the process.
  • This bill was for England and Wales only.

After much work by the Care Not Killing Alliance, the bill was defeated. However, that has not stopped pro-euthanasia forces in the UK. In September 2008, medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock stated that dementia patients are wasting their families’ lives and wasting the resources of the National Health Service, thus they have a duty to die.

In early December 2008, British television aired a program showing the assisted suicide of an American in Zurich highlighted the growing “suicide tourism” that occurs in Switzerland due to its relatively unrestrictive assisted suicide laws. Shortly thereafter, well-known broadcaster John Humphrys announced he was co-authoring a book in which he will call for the legalization of euthanasia. Finally, assisted suicide was glamorized in a docudrama that aired in January 2009 on BBC called “A Short Stay in Switzerland.”

And now, there are efforts underway calling for an amendment to the Suicide Act to protect from prosecution anyone who helps someone to travel to Switzerland in order to commit suicide.

After you’ve digested all of this, click here to read Part 2, The Coming “E” Battle.