If you have an elderly relative, you need be alarmed. From Nat Hentoff:
The callousness of the Harry Reid Democratic majority in bullying through a very cost-efficient health-care bill for President Obama’s eager pen to sign was disgracefully clear when both the House and Senate, on party-line votes, decided to cut $43 billion of Medicare spending on what the New York Times’ Robert Pear described (Dec. 5) as “home health services, a lifeline for homebound Medicare beneficiaries, which keeps them out of hospitals and nursing homes.” The president, I’m sure, was pleased.
To put a human face on the grim effects of severing that lifeline, Robert Pear, long due for a Pulitzer for his health-care reporting, introduced Delmer A. Wilcox, 89, of Caribou, Maine. He “lives alone, is losing his vision, uses a walker and has chronic diseases of the lungs, heart and kidneys. He said his condition would deteriorate quickly without the regular visits he received from Visiting Nurses of Aroostook, a unit of Eastern Maine Home Care.”
But President Obama has emphasized (as he did during an interview with New York Times’ columnist David Leonhardt): “The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health-care bill out here.”
For cost purposes, should Reid take into account how much longer Mr. Wilcox has to live?
Another senator, the often-independent Maine Republican Susan Collins, does not make such terminal calculations. “The Medicare home benefit,” she told the New York Times (Dec. 6), “is under attack. The impact of these cuts will ultimately fall on seniors. Home health agencies will simply not be able to afford to serve seniors living in smaller communities off rural roads.”
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