Forget about getting to age 75, this exact thing happened to me this morning at Danbury hospital here in Ct. I was scheduled for a cardio-lite stress test. This is a tread mill stress test where during the process they inject nuclear dye into your blood stream and then put you in a CAT scan or something similar and take a picture of your heart. If all is good, the heart shows up red, if there are blocked arteries anywhere that portion of the heart shows up pink. I have had three of these tests in the past twelve years due to blocked arteries discovered in 2000. They use the test to determine if I need a roto-rooter or a bypass operation. So I arrive at the hospital at 8am this morning and I am in the process of checking in at Cardiology and the lady says that my appointment has been cancelled. She makes a call and speaks with someone and hands me the phone. It is a nurse in cardiology who says that my medical coverage denied the procedure. I said it was routine, part of my heart maintenance process and ordered by my PCP and with approval from my Cardiologist who is the head of Danbury Cardiology which is right where I was standing. She goes, “yes but we were denied our request”. So I say, I have Medicare so what is my backup insurance doing denying anything. Then the bombshell, she says it was the Medicare board that denied the procedure. At that point, I turn to everyone behind me, and it was a long line, and I say to them “well you won’t have to wait too long today because my stress test procedure was just cancelled by a Medicare Death Panel. I am only 67 so can you imagine what is going to happen when we really get old”. The entire waiting room and everyone there from patients to staff just went dead silent. So I turn to the front desk and tell them, ” I guess I will have to write a letter to the editor of the Danbury News Times and call my Senators and Congressman and let them know the Death Panels have already convened”. Then I walked out. By the time I got home the message machine was blinking. My PCP had already called and so did the hospital and guess what, Medicare decided to approve my stress test procedure and if I could get back down to the hospital they would fit me in right now for this 3 hour procedure. I told them I couldn’t make it, that I was going fishing because I didn’t know how many more fishing trips I could get in before I went into cardiac arrest but not to worry about me costing the government any money because I am a 30% disabled Army veteran, due to Agent Orange poisoning which is what caused this heart problem to begin with, and I qualify to be buried for free in a plain pine wrapper in the cheap graves section at any National Cemetery ...”
I was talking last night (Sunday) with my son-in-law’s brother who is a Neurosurgeon at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, which, if you are not familiar with it, ranks up there with the finest hospitals in the country. A group of non-doctors, from ‘our’ (????) country’s Department of Health arrived last week at Emory for a two day session and is on their rounds around the country to make sure every hospital fully understands the new rules (which start in December (after the elections) concerning treating all patients over 70 years of age. You heard of the death squads early on after Obamacare was passed and many people claimed it was not true and that people were misquoting what was in the bill. Well if you believed this you are wrong. DEAD WRONG! This group informed the staff Emory and all the doctors present that they will very soon not be allowed to operate on anyone over 70 (no matter how urgent or life threatening the situation is), without first having it approved by a board of eight doctors. Failure to comply will result in a huge financial burden to the hospital and more than likely the doctor will lose his/her ability to practice medicine anywhere in the country. This board is to be established at every hospital in the country and the board members will only work eight hours a day. We will discuss this a little later on as the DOH group almost got lynched at this point by the doctors who were present. This board of doctors will not be made up of active doctors. All the doctors must be retired – and may even be retired up to 30 or 40 years. Further, Obamacare sees no need or requirement for them to be skilled in surgery. Another very vocal argument broke out here as these doctors likely may not even be aware of what advancements have taken place in surgery over the last 5-10 years nor what is going today as well. Also, anyone who has ever been a doctor can serve on these boards. For example, Individuals with skills only in pediatrics, podiatry, dermatology, etc., may be making decisions as to whether a brain operation is required or not. The point that got the Emery doctors so upset originally was that the “Death Board” will be available on 8 hours during the day. And once their 8 hour shift is up, they may have to wait 16 hours to get in touch with them and another hour or two or three to get a decision and permission to operate. But they daily have cases in which it is crucial to operate within 30 minutes. The staff at Emory Hospital will be coordinating with other hospitals and together they will make a concerted effort to bring about significant changes to this portion of Obamacare. When the question was raised from the floor by a young doctor as to whether doctors had to get permission to operate on congressmen and/or future members of the executive branch who would later be over 70, the answer was, “Of course not!” When the same young doctor asked, “Why not.” They refused to answer.
Long before the passage of the health care reform legislation commonly known as “Obamacare,” and continuing long afterwards, rumors have circulated claiming that the legislation mandates the creation of ethics panels (or “death panels”) which will determine who is deemed worthy of medical treatment, or that patients over a given age simply be denied essential medical treatment as a matter of course. The item reproduced above is another false rumor of that ilk, one which claims (citing a doctor at the Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee as a source) that as of sometime in 2013, patients over the age of 75 will no longer be given major medical procedures “unless approved by locally administered Ethics Panels.”
According to a representative for Johnson City Medical Center (Ed Herbert, Vice President, Mountain State Health Alliance Communications and Marketing), the substance of the message is untrue, and the related conversation did not take place as stated:
While dramatic in nature, the conversation [above] is not true. The originator of the email was a guest in Dr. Suzanne Allen’s home. He is using Dr. Allen’s name and that of Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) to wrongly promote his political position. Another issue is that Dr. Allen, who the blog names as [someone in a position of] ER leadership or more, is one of our incredibly skilled and caring ED physicians in the level I trauma center/Emergency Department at JCMC, [but is] not in any leadership role. She was very upset that the individual would fabricate a conversation about healthcare reform and use her name to add credibility to his position.
The statements attributed to Dr. Allen were not said, the statements about Johnson City Medical Center are not true. The healthcare reform law, according to Dr. Allen, does not change the way in which she cares for her patients. From a hospital point of view, if there has been any effect from the healthcare reform law, it has been increased access for patients.
No such denial is necessary to debunk this item, however. The simple fact is that, repeated spurious claims to the contrary notwithstanding, no provision of the “Obamacare” health care legislation mandates or authorizes the creation of “ethics panels” to determine which patients should or should not receive various medical treatments, based on their age or any other criteria.
Dr. Jill Vecchio, a Colorado radiologist, made a similar claim (captured in a YouTube video) that women over 74 years of age would not be able to receive mammograms under Obamacare. However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes no such restriction; it echoes the United States Preventive Service Task Force recommendation that breast cancer screening be performed every 1-2 years for women aged 40 and older.