President Obama's Town Hall Meeting on health care, staged by ABC-TV at the White House last night, represents a desperate effort to get the American people to support what Lyndon LaRouche has denounced as a Nazi-modeled health plan, a plan that would cut costs by denying care to those defined as at the end of life, or "useless eaters."
Despite an audience handpicked by the White House, the question of whether there would be health care for the elderly, who would decide whether and what treatments would be provided, and whether that decision would be based on cost, came up again and again. Although Obama dodged a number of these with, "Good question," or going into one of his irrelevant talking points, his intention to impose unappealable limits on care to cut costs came out clearly, as when he urged everyone to help solve these "difficult end-of-life decisions" by make a "living will," devised as an authorization for discontinuing care.
Challenged by moderator Charles Gibson, on the hip replacement his terminally ill grandmother had, and what if the money for it had not been there, Obama said that it is true that money might not have been there for it. Obama said not all decisions to deny care are made explicitly, but: "A lot of that is going to have to be, we as a culture and as a society, starting to make better decisions within our own families and for ourselves." Obama left no doubt what these "good decisions" were, though he tried to strike a different pose than his brutal henchmen, Peter Orszag and Ezechial Emanuel.
Obama's plan has bogged down in both the House and the Senate, among both Democrats and Republicans. Obama's job-performance approval rating has also gone negative for the first time, in a June 22 Rasmussen poll, with 34% strongly disapproving and only 32% strongly approving.
Reliable sources have told EIR that the White House is putting tremendous pressure on Democrats to get the bill passed, and threatening key Democratic Committee leaders, like Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that they must get Obama's plan passed, if they want to see any support for their re-election campaigns.
The first question was asked by Dr. Orrin Devinsky: "In the past, politicians who have sought to reform health care have tried to limit costs by reducing tests, access to specialists, but they've not been good at taking their own medicine.... If your family were sick, would you do everything possible to get the best health care for your family?" Obama replied, "That's a terrific question." Obama mentioned his grandmother's hip replacement, when she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. "Families across America are going through decisions like that all the time." He went on to say, "There is a whole bunch of care that is being provided ... that may not be making us healthier."
When Dr. John Corboy from Colorado asked Obama, "What can you do to convince the American public that there actually are limits to what we can pay for with our American health system? And, if there are going to be limits, who's going to design the system, and who's going to enforce the rules for a system like that?" Obama responded, "Now you're asking the right question." Obama went into scare tactics, about the doubling of premiums in the last 9 years for the average family, and then threatening, "Ten years from now...it's going to cost 2 or 3 times a much as it does right now."
Dr. James Rohack from Texas, the president of the American Medical Association, asked, "How are you going to assure the American public that medical decisions will still be between the patient and the physician, and not some bureaucracy that will make decisions on cost, and not really what the patient needs?"
This directly raised the issue of an all-powerful body with life-or-death power over dispensing medical care. Obama retreated to non-responsive talking points: "The most important thing I can say, James, on this issue, is, if you are happy with your plan and you are happy with your doctor, then we don't want you to change. In fact, if we don't do anything, if there's inaction, I think that's where the great danger that you lose your health care exists, because of the cost problems I already talked about."
The program then showed a video clip of Dr. Michael Jensen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (much touted by Obama): "I see too many patients who have terminal illnesses, or no hope of recovery, who received weeks or months of intensive care unit treatment, only to prolong their death. I find this approach very distressing, and the waste of money is appalling. We just can't afford to provide all treatments to all people."
This was juxtaposed to a video clip of Robert Wassen, who said, "My mother is 74 years old. She has terminal cancer in the stomach lining that has spread to the lungs. She deserves to be treated medically to the best of their ability. To say it's too expensive is not right. I just don't think you can put a price tag on quality time with loved ones, especially at the end of their lives."
Back in the audience, Jane Sturm described her mother, Hazel Homer, who is now 105: "When she was 100, the doctor said to her, 'I can't do anything more unless you have a pacemaker,' and she said, 'Go for it.' When the arrhythmia specialist saw her, saw her joy of life and so on, he said, 'I'm going for it.' So," Sturm continued, "That was over 5 years ago. My question to you is, outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody who is elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit; a certain joy of living; a qualify of life, or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?"
Obama answered that everyone should "draft and sign a living will..." Obama cited the fact that people run out of money, and that insurers deny care, in order to argue that the decisions are already being "made one way or another" by others. But, instead of pledging to eliminate these denials of care, Obama said such rationing would be an explicit part of his plan.