This morning I heard a startling news item on NPR:
For example, this moment, during President Obama's town meeting yesterday, the meeting was hosted by AARP, and at one point a caller named Mary put this question to the president about something that she had heard is in the House bill.
MARY: I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that's Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die. This bothers me greatly, and I'd like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.
Last year, Christopher Buckley’s novel Boomsday kept me entertained through a flight somewhere and well into the night after arrival (this explains my drowsiness the next morning). The title refers to the date when the majority of baby boomers retire, precipitating an economic catastrophe for the country.
The heroine is Cassandra Devine, a savvy 29-year-old PR professional working in an agency run by one of the guys from Thank You for Smoking, an earlier Buckley work. She writes a popular blog (a la Dr. Isis), and she inspires her readers to storm golf courses and gated communities to terrorize the Medicare set. One late night she develops a concept of “voluntary transitioning” for boomers; in other words, they get some benefits (free Botox? reduced inheritance taxes?) if they agree to kick the bucket at age 70. Yup, it’s voluntary suicide. She repeatedly tells people that this is a “meta-issue” meant solely to drive the conversation and get the economic mess fixed, but like many ideas, this one develops a life of its own and is soon out of her control.
Unfortunately, this book has one thing completely in common with reality: tough choices don’t get made.
I won’t tell you any more about the book, because you really ought to read it yourself. Hell, you should buy it and help out Mr. Buckley who lost his job at the National Review (founded by his dad) because he endorsed Barak Obama for president!
The truth is no one really wants retirees to “pick their method of death:”
Mr. DAU: The House bill includes a provision that would allow Medicare to pay doctors for taking the time to talk with their patients about the very difficult choices that people face at the end of their life about health care: What kind of interventions you might want in the case of a bad accident or debilitating illness. It would empower individuals to make the best possible health care choices for them and their families and allow doctors to provide their patients with this so that no one's guessing at the end of a person's life.
Thus far the debate on health care reform is a mess, driven more by fear than fact. I truly hope that our government can get it together and cover all of our citizens.
In the meantime, I’m waiting for Christopher Buckley to write another book!