Health Care Tyranny in America
(Hospice, Palliative Care and Health Care Reform)
By Ron Panzer
There are numerous books about the history of euthanasia and eugenics proposals in our society. This book is not one of those. It offers a rare glimpse from my experience within the end-of-life industry, my work as a patient advocate, and includes the revelations of hundreds and hundreds of people as they have recounted it to me. This book explains how we got where we are today and provides statements by many of our nation’s leaders in health care, government and patient advocacy, that taken altogether form the pieces of the puzzle that reveal what has been hidden from the American public for decades: stealth euthanasia is being practiced throughout the United States and elsewhere.
I have many friends within the hospice industry who confirm what I recount here in this book, so I urge you to read through to the very end, as you have never heard all that I am about to share with you. Some of it may surprise and shock you. Some of it will trouble you, but all of it will affect what happens to you, your family and our society in the days to come.
This is the story of the intentionally “below-the-radar” changes that have been aggressively pursued in our society for decades. Because these changes are not covered by the major media in any coherent, connected way, or at all, the public has difficulty “putting a finger” on what is happening and why. They see changes here and there as situations arise in their lives, especially in health care. They hear stories about what is happening and mistakenly assume they are isolated incidents. Sometimes, they just can’t believe the changes that have already been made. They seem so “foreign” to what American society is all about, and the reason they seem “foreign” is they do not arise from American Constitutional values.
Some people are frightened by these changes, changes that seem to be imposed upon society without the approval of the majority of citizens. They question the wisdom of abandoning the traditional values that formed the foundation for American life. They question the declining percentages of Americans who support the traditional value of a family (husband, wife and children), marriage (husband and wife), sanctity of life, faith in God, the value of work and the opportunity to get ahead in a free society. They wonder how we have strayed so far. They question whether we are still truly free to express our religious faith in a public setting, or even whether the dedication to “do no harm” within health care is the prevailing mindset. Shockingly, often it is not.
If you want to know what all that “death panel” talk is really all about, this is the book that explains exactly what is going on and will be going on.
There are no formal “death panels,” but there are bureaucrats in government, HMOs, and private health insurance companies whose decisions knowingly result in denied tests, denied treatments and certain death in many cases. This has been well-documented. However, when the federal government becomes the big HMO itself, test and treatment denials will be the equivalent of death sentences for some, even many. The new health care reform law creates several methods that are likely to result in rationed care. For example, the “Independent Payment Advisory Board” (“IPAB”) is supposedly not allowed to make recommendations that directly result in rationing care, but it can exert overwhelming pressure on providers by reducing how much they get paid to provide a service.
Politicians say, “we are not going to ration care.” But they will set in motion many processes that reduce reimbursement under the guise of “limiting expenditures,” or “keeping costs down,” and these processes will result in rationing care. Ultimately, many services will simply not be provided, because physicians, hospitals, and others cannot afford to provide them at the steadily decreasing reimbursement levels determined by the bureaucrats who run Medicare, Medicaid and other government-controlled health services.
Those on Medicare and Medicaid are already on a government-run plan and are experiencing the effects of decisions made by unelected bureaucrats in Washington, DC. We need to remember that Medicare passed into law in 1965 and is nominally a “voluntary” program. However, to assure participation by all seniors, then President Lyndon Johnson pressured all private health insurers to cancel all policies available to seniors. If seniors want to completely opt-out of Medicare, they have to give up their Social Security benefits and then pay privately for all services they receive. Only the very wealthy can do that.
Since there is no private health insurance available for seniors in the United States, we cannot say that participation in Medicare is truly voluntary. Seniors must accept whatever those running Medicare decide regarding their treatment options. Certainly, there are many who would have no health coverage without Medicare, and millions have benefited from the program. Many seniors are comfortable with Medicare the way it has been up to the present time. What needs to be recognized is that changes are coming no matter what political party or agenda controls those changes, with or without the new health care reform law. One political party will accuse the other of threatening the well-being of senior citizens and vice-versa. But both will silently promote the stealth euthanasia already begun in this nation. The generous benefits of Medicare over the past are going to be phased out selectively to streamline the program and make it more “efficient.” The idea that the future Medicare will be like what we’ve had till now is quite mistaken and those that trust in the promises being made by either party need to wake up to the realities.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has said, “telling America’s aging population that its entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will survive without significant changes is dishonest.” The debate about the health care reform law or other proposals are important, but like some demonstrations of illusion and “magic,” you never see what’s really happening. Misdirection and skill fool all except those trained in the art. While we focus on the public debate, drastic changes are being made quietly without fanfare. “The Obama administration has released a report saying that health reform will save $575 billion in the Medicare program over 10 years.” All while the number of Medicare patients will grow exponentially. Isn’t it obvious what is happening?
The health care reform law (H.R.3590) has already modified how Medicare will be run. Under Section 3021, “Establishment of Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation,” the Secretary of HHS “shall adjust the payments made to an eligible safety net hospital system or network from a fee-for-service payment structure to a global capitated payment model.” [H.R.3590 p.205] Going from a Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement system that pays fees for each service provided to a system that has a cap on payments made for all services provided to a patient is one of the most significant changes to Medicare ever made and will certainly result in drastic changes. Just think about how hospitals will change what tests, surgeries and treatments they provide if they know the amount they will be paid is capped for each patient they serve! And if the patient has already used up the cap amount, do you think the hospital will continue to provide services for free?
In addition, once the government takes over management of our nation’s entire health care system under H.R. 3590, as it already has in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, it acquires control over how care is delivered, what care is available, and who receives that care or not. It controls how much the providers are paid, and by deciding to pay providers less than service costs and capping total costs paid out, it is driving some physicians to leave the field and will discourage the young from entering the field. Some hospitals will close their doors, reducing the total number of hospital beds available to those in the community. On average, physicians train until they’re close to 30 years old, graduate with $150,000 to $250,000 in debt for their education, and are subject to being sued on any given day.
When the nation’s supply of physicians lags behind the growing elderly population and hospitals have to serve that increasing number of patients, health care services will certainly be limited. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges. “America will face a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors in 10 years.” There is no question that, in order to keep health care costs down, patients will see more physician-assistants and nurse practitioners providing primary care. Actually getting to see the physician will become increasingly difficult over time. For example, “employment of physician assistants is expected to grow by 39 percent from 2008 to 2018.” To cut costs even more, if a patient is chronically ill, with more than one diagnosis, or very elderly, and enters the hospital more than once, that patient will likely be referred for hospice or palliative care services to prevent more costly acute care hospital admissions.
You may not realize this, but leaders in government of both political parties are promoting palliative and hospice care as the destination, your destination … the end of the road in a patient’s health care journey. There is no need for something to be called a “death panel.” Rationed care will result in destabilization and consequent death for many of the chronically ill, elderly and disabled. Interventions and treatment options, as well as denials, can be manipulated so that death is made to happen.
There is no one place to point the finger and say, “he” alone is responsible, or “that group” or “that government department” alone is responsible. It is much more sophisticated and complicated than that. There are webs and webs of interconnected efforts that have resulted in a massive wave sweeping over our land, something that has not happened overnight, though it may seem so. It’s been coming for over seventy years. Americans have been quietly “asleep” while those who have made war on American values achieved success after success.
We don’t want to think about “death and dying” even if some have been shouting the “death and dying” talk from the rooftops. There have been thousands of news articles and speakers all across the country promoting the wonders of end-of-life care, and there is much good that can be done when dedicated professionals make their best effort to relieve suffering at the end-of-life. However, there are some who have dedicated their lives to move American society away from its traditional values, and they have not been asleep. They’ve been very busy for over seventy years working in the background, training others and teaching in the universities, arranging to have their ideas inserted into public school curricula.
They’ve written sections of textbook after textbook or controlled the slant of content used to train physicians, nurses, other health care professionals, attorneys, and therefore some of the justices who eventually serve on the courts, until they have succeeded in changing how the powerful-to-be think and act … how they view the world from deep within. And now the indoctrinated are the powerful. They’ve even gotten rid of the Hippocratic Oath for graduating physicians in most medical schools (contrary to what we Americans assume). They are accomplishing the last acts of their grand project: changing completely how Americans die and how Americans view death and dying.
When physicians, attorneys and judges as well as other leaders of our society no longer affirm the sanctity of life, and when leaders within health care no longer pledge to “do no harm,” there is no obstacle to the devaluation of selected lives and the discarding of those lives.
Before the advent of widely available hospice services in the 1980s, most Americans died in acute care hospitals in a “medicalized” environment where death, just like birth, was reserved for doctors and nurses. It was hidden from view, something that otherwise has been quite unusual over the course of human history.
The modern hospice movement with its openness to caring for the dying with family present, with its recognition of the opportunity for healing in family relationships at the end-of-life, and its focus on working to do a better job at pain and symptom management has been a wonderful thing. It incorporated the very best of the latest medical advances in symptom management with a more natural atmosphere for those facing death. But this positive step has been negated in many segments of the industry due to financial or utilitarian concerns.
Although many of us would like to think otherwise, there has always been a side of American society that has had a utilitarian streak. We will explore how this has affected health care and especially end-of-life care as well as what it means for you. There has been a very slick, sophisticated and well-financed campaign to completely twist the positive contributions of hospice into something the public would never openly accept.
Because most people in our modern society do not have the background or experience within the health-care industry, they don’t have the information to understand what is really planned for us when it comes to health care reform or entitlement reform. And many of those who work within health care still do not know about many of the changes that have been put in place within the end-of-life care industry. Even among those who work in hospice or palliative care, most do not know the history of the industry and who is directing its continuing development. This book contains the essentials needed to truly understand the monumental changes being planned for our society and how it is being accomplished in our time.
The issues discussed in this book will affect American society whether the health care reform law is upheld, declared unconstitutional on appeal, repealed or not, or nullified through various efforts by some of the states. How health care is provided to the elderly and disabled is being modified, significantly. Efforts to make Medicare and Medicaid services more efficient and less costly will affect many, and the changes made are not being made solely to make them more efficient. There is something else going on.
Many worry that a government-run health care system will do away with the freedom to choose one’s own physician, treatment center or treatment. Others have noted that some physicians are “opting out” of Medicare and Medicaid protesting that the reimbursement is often lower than the costs of providing services. “By 2013, less than one-third of U.S. physicians are expected to remain in private practice and patients may increasingly find that being treated by physicians in private, small practice settings may be a thing of the past.” Many wonder if patients will be able to find the care they need or if they will have to wait months to get to see the doctor or have a needed surgery. With the budgetary pressures on our nation, many worry how this will impact end-of-life care for the vulnerable.
Through the years, many people have called the Hospice Patients Alliance (and many other patient advocacy organizations), pleading for help, reporting problems they have encountered, like the failure of the hospice agency to provide services as needed, reporting that the staff prevented them from giving food or liquids to their loved one when he or she could still take them in and benefit. They sometimes report that their loved one was literally killed in a health care setting. I’ve listened and carefully thought about the depth of the problems.
Through the years, the accounts given by these family members are eerily similar. When family members recount what hospice staff said to them, the language and phrases used sometimes are exactly the same, the actions taken exactly the same, the outcome exactly the same. The reason? The staff at different agencies across the country are being trained in the same way, and the actions taken were quite contrary to what the patient and family expected. The services and treatment provided are not what the American people have come to expect from hospice.
Those who report to us are not uneducated in the ways of medicine and health care. Many of those who call in are themselves physicians, nurses, social workers, ministers and lawyers. Yet, even with their training, some are unable to resolve problems encountered or to even prevent the hastened death of their own family member.
Those who are quite familiar with the standards of care in health care are often surprised at the wanton disregard for adherence to the standards by some hospice agencies and staff. They often cannot believe that the violation of the standards could ever be so knowingly and willingly done. This is not to say that all hospice and palliative care units violate standards. Certainly not! But, there are too many that do, and there is a reason for it. There is a reason why government regulators surprisingly do nothing about it as well.
Hospice Patients Alliance’s outreach to the public was designed to bypass the media censorship and that’s how we have continued to work, to get information out to the people directly and to work individually with them as problems arise. Our website has had millions of visitors through the years. Those who need information are getting it because of what we provide.
It is strange that of the thousands of websites maintained by all the hospice agencies, ours is the only one that has all the standards of care and laws set out for the public to access easily, along with easily understood explanations of what should be expected. Yet, it simply confirms what I noticed back in 1998: there was no place for the public to get complete information about what is going on in hospice and palliative care, what the standards of care are, what to do when problems arise, and what others are experiencing in this largely unregulated niche of health care. Except for our organization, there still is no place for the public to get complete access to the standards of care with easily understood explanations, honest information about what problems do exist, and what can be done about them.
Why should the realities be hidden from the patients and families that end up using these services? With about 40% of all American deaths now occurring in hospice, the public certainly has a right to know! Why do the media’s editors censor the truth so people are repeatedly blind-sided and taken by surprise when their loved one is medically killed in a hospice, hospital or nursing home? I know that if you’ve had a positive experience with hospice and palliative care, you may be shocked and upset to read this, but just because you had a positive experience does not mean that all others will as well.
You might conclude that I am against hospice and palliative care, but that would be completely untrue. I care very much about the field of end-of-life care and have the greatest respect for those who work in this field and dedicate themselves to relieve suffering while allowing a death in its own natural timing. We’ve worked hard to encourage the highest standards in end-of-life care and have worked with many in the field through the years. Yet, we believe that it’s important for the public to know the hidden truth about end-of-life care as well, because each of us will be confronted with these issues sooner or later.
Whether you are a person of faith, an agnostic or atheist, this book provides a rare glimpse of the realities of health care in America that you will find nowhere else. There is much material here that you do need to know so you can see exactly what is happening, how it is happening, when it started and why.
There is a lot of material covered, but bear with me and read on, because this book explains why you have not been informed about the hidden realities in the industry, why the major media is censoring one of the most important stories of our time, and why the realities of end-of-life care are not what the media portrays them to be. This book is our way of reaching out to the public directly, bypassing the big media censorship, the government’s silent complicity, and the industry’s own deception.
Our nation was founded upon principles that many of us still hold dear. It is true that some ridicule these principles … such as a right to life, free speech (which is not limited to “politically correct” speech) and freedom from an overbearing and oppressive government. Some are rejoicing that a socialized health care system may be implemented, while others are absolutely horrified.
While there are court challenges to the health reform law, changes are being implemented anyway. No law is required for government administrators to modify some of Medicare and Medicaid’s internal administrative rules. The Centers for Medicare Services already has authority to change many things. With the threat of drastic changes in private health insurance, some private insurance companies may go out of business. Other insurers are making changes that drastically affect how they do business, and as the trend continues, many changes will be irreversible.
By the time some of you read this, the high court may have already ruled, however, businesses around the country have been scrambling to try to comply with the regulations of a law that will comprise thousands of pages with all the administrative regulations included. Small businesses don’t know what to do and must consult attorneys, tax accountants, and other experts to plan what to do, further bogging down productivity and economic recovery. Same thing for large corporations. The uncertainty of “what the federal government will do” is like a cloud over every business in America. The certainty of changes already made is depressing business as well.
With economic pressures mounting, deficit spending completely out-of-control in a manner never before witnessed in America, and international leaders urging that the world abandon the U.S. dollar as the world’s global reserve currency, citizens worry that our nation is spiraling out of control and that our basic way of life is seriously threatened. It clearly is! We live in especially “historic times,” I tell my son. And, “there has never been anything similar in American history.” We pray that our beautiful and inspiring American experiment in representative democracy will find its way back to the values that allowed it to create and maintain a stable and free society.
When what our elected leaders have done through the years to endanger our nation’s economic security is fully known, Bernie Madoff (the convicted Ponzi scheme investment leader) will seem like a saint. Our national trade, tax and regulatory policies have decimated the manufacturing base in this country, sent jobs and corporations overseas, and made us debtors to the world. A once proud nation is imperiled, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and the health and economic well-being of its citizens is imperiled with it.
Nations are discussing returning to a worldwide gold standard, rather than the American dollar being the global reserve currency. Even if the gold standard is not adopted, simply downgrading the U.S. dollar and “removing America’s ‘AAA’ status would make it more expensive for the world’s largest economy [the U.S.] to borrow money on the international money markets. On Aug 5, 2011 Standard & Poor downgraded the U.S. dollar to AA+. This may eventually trigger austerity measures in the U.S. far more drastic than its current deficit reduction plans ….” And yes, that means cuts in health care spending of all sorts.
Threats of terrorist attacks on our people are taken very seriously, but nobody really knows what to do to stop them. We must trust the government to protect us; that is what the government is supposed to do. But when the government itself makes changes that are inconsistent with our values and Constitutional freedoms, the people become alarmed, awakened and move to block those changes and re-assert the foundational freedoms of our nation. That is the beauty of our nation’s regularly and freely held elections
When it comes to health care, there are numerous arguments about what solution can be found for the problems of rapidly rising costs, people who can’t access care, and how best to distribute tax dollars for health care. Those of us who are focused on health care hear about “evidenced-based medicine,” but in the major media there is little or no discussion of the potential misuse of evidence-based medicine. We hear about “comparative effectiveness research,” but in the major media there is little or no discussion of the potential misuse of “comparative effectiveness research.” We hear about the “complete lives system” of leading national health care advisors, as well as the rationing of health care, but the major media reports downplay any concerns being raised.
Why have we not had an open dialog about the benefits of, or problems with, the ideas that are changing the way health care will be delivered? Why do most people have no idea what these three concepts involve and how they will dramatically affect their lives and those they love?
Evidence-Based medicine is:
“the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.”
[“Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice,” Duke Univ Medical Center Library and Health Sciences Library, UNC-Chapel Hill – Dr. David Sackett, a pioneer in evidence-based practice, 1996]
Probably most physicians today want their decisions to reflect the latest medical science and the evidence. It makes sense. But anyone who knows anything about medical studies knows that different studies result in different outcomes and conclusions. The design of the studies, the number of subjects, the controls used, and so many other factors effect what conclusions are reached. Sometimes, if you want a certain result, you can be sure to get it if you design the study just so. In fact, there are well-respected physicians debating the whole idea of “evidence-based medicine. A November 2008 seminar was entitled, “The Evidence Never Lies? Critical Debates in Evidence-Based Medicine” with leading physicians, bioethicists and professors of philosophy debating the pros and cons of this whole field of endeavor. Topics included: “What’s right and what’s wrong with evidence-based medicine?” “What is the role of clinical research evidence in medical practice?” and “What is the patient’s role in medical decision-making?”
If evidence-based medicine is used to ration care and decide what treatments are offered citizens under Medicare, Medicaid or a possible national health system, who decides what evidence and what studies are used? Who decides what the conclusions should be? Will the physician and patient decide or will a bureaucrat somewhere in the government, a PPO, HMO or other managed care company decide?
When it comes to the care of the elderly, disabled and chronically ill, many questions remain. Even among those who respect and value life, there is a lack of information about what is going on in the end-of-life care arena, what the hospice leadership is doing, what the successor organizations of the Euthanasia Society Of America are doing, who the major players are and how they operate. I’m sorry to say that many leaders of the culture of life, pro-lifers, have no idea what is going on, really, even if many of them think they do. They have been misinformed or intentionally kept in the dark completely. I realize that may offend some, but our role is to serve and inform and provide complete information so that citizens can influence the course of our nation knowing all that is at stake.
Many supporters of the sanctity of life simply do not know how deep this all goes and how successful the heirs of the original Euthanasia Society of America have been in our nation. They do not know how the Euthanasia Society is connected with the largest segment of the hospice industry in America, and when some have finally understood it, they have been shocked. Most of those who affirm the sanctity of life view hospice as the rightful alternative to euthanasia and assisted suicide; they would be correct in some cases, but wrong in many others! Those who affirm the value of each life have been outmaneuvered by those who hold a utilitarian worldview, and when some of them encounter a hospice that does not respect the sanctity of life and hurries death along, they realize bitterly that they have been betrayed.
Did you know that the largest hospice organization in our nation is the successor organization to the Euthanasia Society of America? Did you know that according to the most prominent hospice leaders in the world, many hospices in the United States today have no reservations about hastening death through a method called “terminal sedation,” (also “palliative sedation” or “total sedation”)? Did you know that the federal regulations governing hospice are far fewer in number than those protecting patients in nursing homes or hospitals, or that state agencies inspect hospices less frequently than nursing homes or hospitals? Did you know some hospices may go years without being inspected at all? Did you know that because of the HIPAA privacy regulations, nobody interested in researching what is actually going on in hospice can get access to the data, so hospices that have an agenda can act without any outside interference or supervision?
This is how Robin Love’s father who was not terminal was hauled off to hospice, deprived of food and water and was given large doses of morphine and sedatives. He died shortly thereafter. Wendy Ludwig, RN reports that a Catholic priest she knew was hastened to his death as well. Some hospices have gone eight years without ever being inspected, except for the initial inspection when they opened their doors! What the public thinks about hospice is a carefully constructed image. In some cases, that image is fulfilled in practice, but sad to say, in many cases, it is not. We have reports of young infants being hastened to their death in peri-natal hospice because they didn’t die “soon enough!”
You could say that our society has been manipulated, maneuvered, even “conditioned” to think in ways that are completely contrary to the way Americans thought for the past two centuries. And millions and millions of dollars have been spent to achieve this. The proverbial example of the frog in the pot of water applies here. Although there is debate about what really happens, if you put the frog in lukewarm water, he won’t jump out. If you put him in hot water (not boiling), he will jump out, and will definitely notice that he’s in “hot water.” Our society is like that. Slowly, but surely, the “temperature” has been “turned up” toward “culture of death” thinking and we don’t even notice how “hot” it is anymore.
You may be surprised but today, many people have adopted the “quality of life” ethic where it’s “ok” to end someone’s life because they are “seriously disabled,” “very elderly,” have dementia or any number of other reasons. In a very real sense, many of us have become numb to the killings so that we accept an increasingly larger category of lives that may be ended in a medical setting. And many times, we don’t call them “killings.” We say, “We let him go.” “It was time.” And to “let go” is certainly appropriate when someone is truly at the end-of-life, but when someone is not imminently dying and they end up dead, it really is a “medical killing.”
If there were no medical murders, books like Caring To Death: A Discursive Analysis of Nurses who Murder Patients (by John Field, PhD; where over 50 cases of nurse killers from around the world are discussed) would not be written. That book is about the sensational cases that leaked out into the media and the killer nurses were apprehended and convicted. Articles like, “Angels of mercy: The dark side” would not exist. Stealth Euthanasia: Health Care Tyranny in America is about the policies and actions that result in imposed death and are not leaked out into the media and are given the government’s complete stamp of approval: death on demand, or “stealth euthanasia.” In stealth euthanasia, policymakers, nurses, doctors and others, whose actions or decisions cause death, are not apprehended and they certainly are not prosecuted.
Not so very long ago when sanctity of life was the mainstream ethic for our society, we recognized that we are here to care for each other, not to kill each other. Now magazine articles promote hospice as the “other way” to make someone die on demand.
Bobby Schindler, Jr., Terri Schiavo’s brother, reminds us all when he says,
“Terri and others like her should be a constant reminder to all of us that caring for the disabled is never a burden, but is instead an act of God’s unconditional love.”
[“The dehydration death of a nation,” by Bobby Schindler March 30, 2007]
We’ve been conditioned to think otherwise. We’ve been conditioned to think that caring for the disabled is an exercise in foolishness, that the disabled and very elderly are “better off dead.” Over and over, we hear stories about the suffering of the disabled who are dependent on others, but rarely do we hear about the loving interaction between the disabled and those around them who care for them. We hear less and less about the blessings that come to those who serve and care for the severely disabled and dependent, the changes brought about in those who serve, or the blessings to those who are served.
Whether openly conveyed or subliminally imprinted upon us, the message for decades has increasingly been, “let them die,” they are “better off dead,” “let go,” “kill them.” The message may not be conveyed openly in those words, but that’s the message, … from health care facility staff, newspaper articles, TV shows or wildly successful movies like “Million Dollar Baby” (about the woman boxer who becomes a quadriplegic and wants to be killed) or the highly successful television series, “House.” The show’s main character Dr. House is portrayed as an obnoxious, arrogant, but strangely likable genius who serves as a platform for promoting the quintessential secular bioethical view; he is a skeptic and a utilitarian who ridicules people of faith, denies God and casually approves abortion and euthanasia. He exalts in his own intelligence without giving credit to anyone else for his abilities. The secular devaluation of life pervades our society and its messengers are getting shriller and less tolerant of other views each day. The major media outlets do promote hastened death in many ways.
Our society is almost “schizophrenic” when it comes to how it approaches these issues. On the one hand, almost everybody openly praises the Special Olympics, and applauded how actor Christopher Reeve fought to regain function through rehabilitation therapy after he became a quadriplegic due to a horseback riding accident. Yet, there are many who would say that Reeve should have committed assisted-suicide or that those competing in the Special Olympics should never have been born!
Killing a congenitally disabled baby before birth is applauded as the “right decision” by leaders and especially many doctors in our society. While under existing law, killing a baby a few days after birth is technically still a homicide, many in our society view the killing of a severely disabled baby or child, or a very elderly disabled person, as a “mercy killing.” We have organizations like Final Exit Network with its euthanasia proponents selling “helium hoods” and other devices for people to kill themselves, and promoting the “right-to-die.” In 2011 they started putting up billboards all over the country with the message, “My Life. My Death. My Choice.”
Many praise those who care for the disabled but hide their wish that many of the disabled not be alive at all. Health care reform, whether implemented through the new law or through changes to Medicare and Medicaid, will bring rationing of treatment in that spirit. It will have life-changing and life-ending effects, and we will see exactly how. Many disability advocates favor government-provided health care, universal health care, but like pro-lifers looking to hospice for an alternative to euthanasia, they will be disappointed when the government uses a heavy hand to limit expenditures for the disabled, elderly and chronically-ill.
We can get a taste of what is coming by looking at the United Kingdom’s socialized National Health Service where the disability rights group, “Scope, found that 70 percent are ‘concerned about pressure being placed on other disabled people to end their lives prematurely'” if assisted-suicide is legalized there.
Anyone who has read the book, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, knows it is a modern classic dealing with race relations. It portrays the struggle of attorney Atticus Finch who heroically defends a falsely-accused black man in a racist society. Yet, there is a parallel theme considering the societal attitudes toward the mentally-ill or disabled. The mentally-ill but good-hearted character, Boo Radley, shuns any public interaction, but manages to watch over and save Atticus’ children from harm. Author Harper Lee says that Atticus is a model for Christian honor and conduct who treats the town recluse Boo Radley with kindness and gentleness. Her message is that we all do the same. People like Atticus Finch still exist, however there are some today who are less tolerant of the mentally-ill. Some view the mentally-ill as less than fully human and less worthy to even be here. Members of our society are quite divided in how they regard the disabled, the mentally-impaired or ill, and about how they should be treated. Not all would look upon Boo Radley with the same loving-kindness of an Atticus Finch.
The vulnerable are among us, but are often not so visible. I have written this to help us remember what it means to be a humane society, to save the vulnerable and re-establish a just society, to make a difference in your life and the lives of your friends and family. If it is not shared widely with others, then it will not have satisfied my goal to alert people throughout our nation.
We are distributing this book online for free so that all can benefit from the information being shared, and our hope is that the book or links to it will be re-distributed virally by email throughout your own circle, posted on your own websites, social-networking sites, blogs, or printed out and shared with those who do not have access to the internet. Some tell me that people won’t appreciate this book if we give it away. Some tell me that I should not mention much about abortion (“it’s too controversial”) or have too many religious quotes in here (“people will get turned off”), and I’ve thought, “well, they’re right, some people won’t appreciate this because it’s free. And some people won’t read this because I have faith and share it a little here and there. And some say I should leave the controversial abortion topic till later in the text. But I’ve thought about it and the material is presented in the context of how changes arose in the United States historically which makes the most sense if you truly wish to understand how we got to where we are today and where we really are today.
I can’t promise to please all the people, and I know if it’s the truth, it will really offend some. Some people oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide yet approve of abortion. It seems that I can’t help offending some. I have to “call it the way I see it.” Take what you can from it, and leave the rest, as they say. I do promise to give you the truth, and give it freely as the dear Lord has given so much to me. I never set out to be where I am today, sharing this information which is so troubling to me and so many others. I just couldn’t turn away and say “no” to those who were and are now suffering. I knew that I had to do something, and this book is part of that effort.
There is no question about the direction our nation’s health care is being taken. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, who our President appointed Health Advisor, promotes the “Complete Lives System” that is being implemented to ration care. Donald Berwick, who our President appointed administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is a strong proponent of Comparative Effectiveness Research which will also be used to ration care. Under the new law, “Accountable Care Organizations” are set up which will force very aggressive rationing practices by medical groups. Cass Sunstein, who our President appointed “Regulatory Czar,” states that unless you specifically record your wish not to donate organs, doctors should be able to harvest your organs (should you be declared “brain dead”) for donation on the basis of “presumed consent,” even if you never actually give consent. He also has stated that an economic crisis can be “used to usher socialism into the United States.” Susan Rice, who our President appointed Ambassador to the United Nations states that we must increase the role of the United Nations in world affairs.
Regarding end-of-life care within the health care system, as we shall see, the nation’s most prominent hospice physicians (such as Joanne Lynn, MD and Ira Byock, MD) are proponents of terminal sedation to hasten death. Willard Gaylin, MD, co-founder of the Hastings Center is a proponent of euthanasia who applauds the efforts to expand the definition of “death” in order to overcome obstacles to legally performing euthanasia. Gaylin is widely accepted in the mainstream media and policymaking circles, and the Hastings Center is one of the organizations that has most influenced the modern American hospice industry to betray its original mission to care, not kill.
To top it off, our President appointed John Holdren “Science Czar.” Holdren is the co-author of the 1977 book, Ecoscience that promotes ideas like forced sterilizations and abortions to limit population growth, compelling single mothers to give up their children to others, putting chemicals in water supplies to prevent births, and a planetary world government that would implement these ideas for the good of the world. Although Holdren is a man-made global warming alarmist in the present (necessitating dramatically increased government-imposed regulations), in the late 1970s he was warning about disastrous global cooling (necessitating dramatically increased government-imposed regulations). It is not a mistake that these specific leaders were chosen to shape our society and our nation’s policies. Each of them has at one time or another stated that he is not what the record shows him to be: an advocate of a much bigger government role in our lives. Their public reassurances and denials of the obvious are not credible.
Taken all together, it is certain that increased government-control of our lives and health care based upon a utilitarian philosophy is being promoted. America will certainly be changed by their collective efforts. The new health care reform law has created agencies such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research institute (PCORI), whose main activities will result in rationed care. The role of secular culture-of-death hospice and palliative care within the health system will be expanded dramatically.
So, it is right to be wary about the changes being proposed: we are swiftly moving toward a utilitarian-controlled and callous society that will victimize many. It is already happening to many at the end-of-life. This book will explain exactly what is happening, how it’s being accomplished, who is responsible, and why it is being done. The book will also explain what must be done to truly reform the health care industry, our government and how to restore the American respect for life. We cannot rely on the government to respect the sanctity of life at any stage of life, even though respect for an individual life is central to traditional American values and our Constitutional system. Respect for life is central to preventing harm to patients, patients who could be your loved ones.
Health care professionals who have a reverence for life view their work as a mission and an opportunity to express their love for each patient. Those with faith, view their work as an opportunity to glorify the Giver of life through service to those who are most vulnerable.
However, federal law and Congressional budgetary expenditures approved by the Presidents (current and past) encourage abortion, eugenics and stealth euthanasia. You will understand exactly how after reading this book. The simple truth is that we are entering an extremely dangerous period in American history … dangerous for those who are the most vulnerable of all and dangerous for our society as a whole. If people contemplate and really see the sanctity of life, their quality of life arguments fall away and they will understand that we are here to care for each other, not to kill each other. Caring, and not convenience, is the sign of a civilized and just society!
About the Author:
Ron Panzer is President of Hospice Patients Alliance, a patient advocate and member of the National Association of Pro-life Nurses. More information about Mr. Panzer can be found at the Hospice Patients Alliance website, by email. Hospice Patients Alliance services are made possible through donations from the general public. Mr. Panzer may be contacted at:
Hospice Patients Alliance
4680 Shank Street, NE
Rockford, MI 49341
Copyright © Ron Panzer 2011-2013
Published by Hospice Patients Alliance, Inc.
4680 Shank Street, NE
Rockford, MI 49341
For more information: Tel. 616-866-9127
This book is also available in the following E-book versions: