Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Perhaps I repeat myself

As you have no doubt heard, Medicare is "unsustainable," so we're just going to have to make old people pay for their own damn health care, and if they can't afford it, there's nothing we can do about it, we're tired of all these freeloaders. But one thing we absolutely cannot allow is rationing of health care, because life is infinitely precious.

For example, it would be an offense against God to ration use of Sipuleucel-T, brand name Provenge. As you can see from this FDA summary explaining why they approved the drug, in a clinical trial it was found to increase overall survival in men with prostate cancer from 21.7 months to 25.8 months. A second trial got very similar results.

So the typical patient gets 4 months of life. (Not healthy life, mind you, sick and dying life made even less pleasant by "chills, fatigue, fever, back pain, nausea, joint ache, and headache.") Still, if you really need that 4 months to finish your bucket list I suppose you'll go for it.

But, it costs $93,000. Not to worry, the Affordable Care Act includes explicit language that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (yep, the Death Panel) "shall not include any recommendation to ration health care." If it offers any discernible benefit, cost is allowed to be no object.

Except, of course, for people who don't have any health insurance at all because it is too expensive and they can't afford it, which right now doesn't include anybody over age 65 but will if the Republicans get their way. For people under 65, it includes a lot of folks, obviously, but denying them health care isn't "rationing," it's the sacred invisible hand of God. Whereas deciding that Medicare won't routinely pay for Sipuleucel-T because we have better things to do with $93,000 is the work of the devil. And by the way, Randians (Ayn, Paul, or Paul Ryan) there would still be nothing stopping you from buying it yourself, if you happen to have $93,000 -- we're just talking about not forcing the rest of us to buy it for you. Which, exactly, is the libertarian position? I'm all confused.

Now, Barack Obama and Harry Reid could explain this to the people, if they wanted to. But they do not. They just let Sarah Palin explain it. Please explain that to me.


Daniel said...

Cervantes, your post is complete nonsense. Too bad for us, it accurately describes our health care policy.

Can a sustained media campaign focusing on a rational health care policy dialogue succeed in changing our present course. I'd ante up.

Cervantes said...

I aim to be as ridiculous as possible.