Sunday, February 27, 2011

"New" health care plan made change age rules for kidney transplants, and weaken ability of elderly to get best treatment; "rationing"?

The new health care law designed by (largely) Democrats under president Obama’s leadership may indeed become more “utilitarian” as to how people get Medicare services (and other government services).  Kidney transplants, usually covered by Medicare for end-stage renal disease at any age, provide an example.

Until, eligibility for transplant receipt has been determined by a waiting list mechanism. But the new rules will favor those who are likely to live the longest after a transplant, and will consider the age difference relative to the donor.

The details are spelled out in an article Feb. 25 in “Medical News Today” (url) here

This has brought on some anger from the Right, and from individuals, (website url) here. There have long been discussions as to whether certain surgeries should not be performed over certain ages, however. My own mother received coronary bypass surgery, a triple bypass, at age 85, in May 1999. She was given a 90% of survival. In fact, she did very well and lived until age 97, passing away in December 2010. She had excellent quality of life until starting some decline in the later part of 2007, after eight good years (about seven years of survival would have been the median).
However, the ability of extended family support could become a factor in determining eligibility for surgeries as advanced ages, and that’s not easy in an age where families have become spread then and diffuse, and there are fewer children in many subpopulations. Gradually, we do live beyond our means. 

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