Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Oldies but Ghoulies

[UPDATE: See also, the American Journal of Bioethics editors blog, for the story titled, "Living Wills Save Money? Dude, Did You Really Say That Out Loud?"]

Last week Tom Burka at Opinions You Should Have posted this:

Vaccine Shortage Solution To Social Security Problem, Says Thompson

Secretary of Health and Human Resources Tommy Thompson said today that the flu vaccine shortage thus demonstrated the kind of "careful, long-range planning" that the Bush Administration brings to bear on difficult problems. "One or two more vaccine shortages, and we'll be able to put away that so-called lockbox," Thompson boasted.

Burka commented, "This plan is certainly as good, if not better, than what Bush just unveiled."

Hahahahahaha! That Tom Burka is really funny, I thought.

Mike Leavitt agreed, and operating under the principle [and you were wondering if he had any principles, weren't you?] that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, announced his innovative cost-containment program:

U.S. Official Touts Medicare Living Wills

By KEVIN FREKING The Associated Press Monday, May 2, 2005; 8:47 PM

WASHINGTON -- Encouraging new Medicare participants to write living wills could end up saving the government large amounts of money, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Monday.

Even funnier than Tom Burka, no? Cut Medicare costs, reduce the burden on Social Security, and avert suspicion that the Bush Administration would like to offer tax incentives for private contractors to satisfy the Soylent Green market. Hahahahaha!

Almost as funny as Laura Bush!

I mean, after all the whoop-de-don't that the White House went through regarding "end-of-life" decision-making with Terry Schiavo, who would think that such a suggestion could be anything more than a jest?

Not that anyone would actually deny medical care on the crass notion that it was cheaper to let people die than to provide treatment. No President or Governor, certainly no Texas Governor, would ever sign a Culture of Death bill that would allow a state to intrude into the private health care decisions of, say, a family? Would he? Not if it were called the Texas Futile Care Law. Not without the Religious Right getting reallyreallyreally upset, right?

Yeah, right.

Unfortunately for Secretary Thompson, so-called "experts" with no sense of humor took the whole thing seriously, and the laughs died down faster than you could shout "Grandma!"

Experts Dispute Remark That Living Wills Save Money

By Ceci Connolly Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, May 6, 2005; Page A09

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said this week that encouraging senior citizens to write living wills could dramatically reduce Medicare's skyrocketing health care costs.

But a large body of scientific data -- including an article co-written by the Bush administration's Medicare chief -- offers little or no evidence that living wills or hospice care lower medical bills.

Old people-- screw 'em if they can't take a joke.