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Jim Towey

Pull the plug on "Your Life, Your choices"

Jim Towey, founder of Aging with Dignity, brings up an interesting point in the Wall Street Journal. Health care reform advocates like to point to the VA as an example of an existing system similar to the proposed public option, but the VA has their own version of the "Death Panels" idea, a planning document called "Your Life, Your Choices".

Apparently the VA has found it necessary to do a little subtle cost controlling by influencing veterans towards a "life is not worth living" and "don't be a burden" mentality.

Read it for yourself on the VA's web site.

A large portion of the document consists of describing various horrible health situations in detail, then asking the veteran if in that situation, would life be difficult, just barely worth living, or not worth living. After that cheery thought, they list possible treatments and are asked to check a box if they'd rather die naturally or receive each treatment. The only treatment that is pre-checked for all the questions is "Comfort care', meaning painkillers and cleanings.

That isn't the only way to present this information and get people thinking about their options and wishes. Compare "Five Wishes". It's shorter, more focused, and much more positive.

So why has the VA chosen to use one over the other? After all, under the Bush administration the VA stopped using "Your Life, Your Choices" because of some of these very issues. The Obama administration started using it again.

It would be interesting to hear the discussion that led to that decision. Did it include a discussion of steering veterans away from expensive life-preserving treatments in favor of a "natural death" and how much money the VA could save as a result?

We don't need government health care providers trying to convince veterans that life may not be worth living.

We certainly don't need new government health care providers.

What we need is more freedom for individuals to contract for their own care and options. The progressives need to stop using regulations to stop people who want to do something different than the "experts" have decided is best for them. That's one of the problems with political solutions to economic problems. One size must fit all.

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