Saturday, April 05, 2008

Should we "Kevorkianize" the elderly?

My comments as posted on the McClatchy news page:

Basically, our so-called legislators want to rid our nation of "inconvenient people," you know, the elderly, the chronically ill....those inconvenient people who actually require healthcare.
Here's my idea. Let's challenge these idiots to line up all the inconvenient people they can find (oh you horrible oxygen users!) on the national mall. Then invite CNN and Fox to televise the proceedings as these inconvienent people are summarily executed.
Isn't that what they are really doing, quietly, and behind the scenes as they eliminate health care resources for those who need it?
As you well know, if the nation didn't see it on TV, well it didn't happen. So it should be shown on national TV; either executions of the ill, or we could put on a reality show, where we could watch people die, real time, as their oxygen, dialysis and medications were removed.

Furthermore, is Grandpa going to change out his oxygen tanks himself? Will he just plop the tank in the back of his Buick? An E cylinder weighs 13.5 lbs, but an H cylinder weighs 145 lbs. And, I am sure that Grandpa or Grandma knows how to trouble shoot the entire oxygen system that they use at home. They can change out parts, etc. after all, Grandma is a whiz with a screw driver!
Even if you buy the thing, you still need help when things don't work, or you can't manage to do it yourself. After all, not everyone can even open an E or H cylinder, it does take a bit of muscle to wrangle the wrench.
Guess we better send Grandma and Grandpa to the gym so they can work on strengthening exercises. Oh and let's send them to RT school so they learn to fix their own oxygen systems. After all, my husband learned to be an RRT in just a couple of years time, after he got his bachelor's degree. Piece of cake, ya'll.


The article:
Congress passed a law requiring a 36-month cap on renting equipment after the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general put a spotlight on the disparate costs. After Jan. 1, 2009, Medicare beneficiaries who have been renting their equipment for three years will own the equipment, and the medical suppliers will get no more payments....

Critics argue that transferring ownership would be a mistake. Hundreds of small providers would be driven out of business, they say, and the elderly no longer would have their equipment serviced by the medical suppliers.

"Think of a World War II veteran," said Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. "He now has ownership of the oxygen tank. He says to his wife, Mabel, 'Mabel, how do I attach this oxygen so it works?' And she says, 'Well, it'd be a good idea, dear, if you put out your cigar.' I just don't think that that is the right way to go. This is the perfect storm."

Roberts has introduced a bill called the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act to try to stop the change.

President Bush included the 13-month cap in his proposed 2009 budget in February. The administration mentioned the cuts again last month as a way to offset increased spending on a new farm bill.

Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat who heads the House Agriculture Committee, quickly rejected the proposal.

Companies that provide home oxygen services say that Congress is targeting them unfairly. Benefits for their services are set to be cut by $1.5 billion over the next two years. That represents a reduction of more than 20 percent, said Peter Kelly, the chairman of the Council for Quality Respiratory Care, a group of home oxygen providers and manufacturers.

"That's not tinkering — that's amputation," he said. "And to consider further cuts on top of that is unwise public policy."

Kelly disputed the inspector general's report, calling it a politically motivated study. He said it was misleading to compare the costs of owning and renting equipment because the latter included service and supplies. And if elderly patients no longer have their equipment serviced, Kelly said, more of them will end up in emergency rooms, driving up costs in the long run.

The inspector general's report defended the plan, saying the machines require minimal servicing and maintenance and that the companies usually train users on how to maintain them.

"Maintenance for a portable system primarily consists of picking up empty cylinders and delivering full ones," the report said.

"Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine told Leavitt that the proposed cuts would have "a Draconian impact on states" that are serving the most needy.

"It represents broad-based cuts. ... It's going to represent 16 percent cuts for physician payments. You're cutting long-term care, hospice, home health care, hospitals, across the board," she said.

More than 1.4 million Medicare beneficiaries used home oxygen therapy in 2005, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Florida ranked first, with 125,200, followed by Texas and California, with 110,200 and 88,400, respectively. Alaska ranked lowest among the 50 states, with 1,500.