Monday, September 7, 2009

Obama Refers to a Child in His Speech That Would Have Been Killed Off by Administration Health Care Advisor

President Obama's prepared remarks for his speech to students is out.

According to the prepared remarks, he at one point will state:

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
Brain cancer at three? All sorts of treatments and surgeries? This kid would have been six feet under if one of Obama's healthcare gurus had his way. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research, and according to an WSJ Op-Ed by Betsy McCaughey, "He clearly will play a role guiding the White House's health initiative."

So what's Ezekiel's take on three year-olds with brain cancer? Bury them. In the Lancet, Jan. 31, 2009, edition Ezekiel and co-authors presented a "complete lives system" for the allocation of very scarce resources. In his own words:
When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get changes that are attenuated...Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments. . . . As the legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin argues, 'It is terrible when an infant dies, but worse, most people think, when a three-year-old dies and worse still when an adolescent does,' this argument is supported by empirical surveys.
In Ezekiel's "complete lives system" this infant is buried at three. Fighting brain cancer in a mere three year old, do you realize the cost? Come on, can't you do Obama balanced budget accounting?


  1. This is an incredibly misleading and unfair slur on a distinguished oncologist. Dr. Emanuel's article was expressly limited to the special case of scarce medical interventions - such as a limited supply of transplant organs or new vaccines where there there are more qualified recipients than there are donors. It says so in the very first sentence of the article. You chose to leave out of your post the fact that his article was limited to organ donations and scarce vaccines. In so doing you mislead Americans seeking clarity about an important topic of current debate. Why did you decide to do that?
    And, by the way, don't you think it would have been helpful if your readers had known that Dr. Emanuel was one of the leading opponents of assisted suicide. Of course, that would have blown a large hole in your thesis. Better to simply mislead.

  2. The point is not for what procedures he wants to implement his mad equations, it is that he has these mad equations at all.

    As I have pointed out before, he operates from the fallicious viewpoint that there is alimited amount of funds (determined by governmant) that is available for medical care. His slippery slope then takes him to choosing via his equations and "empirical studies" as to who lives and who dies.

    He is a madman.

  3. Ah, I see now: anyone who attempts to work through the problems of fairly allocating scarce resources (such as organs in a transplant hospital) is on a slippery slope towards Auschwitz. Any allocation decision he recommends in such limited circumstances is automaticaly applicable to the entire length and breadth of the American heath care system. Much better to allocate transplant organs by lottery.
    By the way, it is amusing to see a self-professed conservative assert that economic inputs are unlimited. Good to know after all these years that there is a free lunch after all.

  4. A.self professed conservative Huh. There are, as of this morning, 3,384 posts at EPJ. Find me one where I refer to myself as a conservative.

    B. I never said economic inputs are unlimited. I said Ezekiel works with a model that assumes expenditures for medical care are fixed (and by government, at that!)

    I see, your interpretation of what I write is on a level with your interpretation of what Ezekiel writes, but, hey, if you want to use him as your family doctor don't let me stop you, but I would personally would rather have nothing to do with him (or you) deciding when I should use a band aid or any other medical treatment. Who made you and Ezekiel Gods to decide these things?

  5. 1. Since Dr. Emanuel has one of the most impressive resumes of any doctor I have every know, since he has treated hundreds of cancer patients, and since he has devoted much of his life to questions of proper care for seriously ill patients, I would be delighted to have the good fortune of having him as my doctor.
    2. Dr. Emanuel's Lancet article did not, as you assert, assume that "medical expenditures for medical care are fixed (and by government, at that!)" Rather, the article "assumed" that the supply of transplant organs is far outstripped by the demand for such organs from eligible recipients. I wonder why you think that would not be the case. I also wonder what you think would be a better method of allocation. A price auction?
    3. The question remains: why did you decide not to inform your readers that Dr. Emanuel's article was expressly limited to transplant organs and vaccines? How could you possibly think that would not be misleading?
    4. re your political leanings: I cannot find your c.v. or publication list anywhere. Perhaps you could supply it. If my Google search is accurate, you are a self-professed disciple of "Austrian economics," which most of us identify as a variety of conservatism. But if I have identified you incorrectly, do let us know.

  6. 1. My comment was re Ezekiel and you. Why should you be involved in my medical decisions, and for that matter Ezekiel's?

    2. It sure does assume an outstripped supply. What exactly would be the problem with bidding for organs? I gurantee it would suddenly increase the assumed fixed number Ezekiel assumes by a multiple of that assumption? Or do you think money is evil and people should die instead?

    3. The thinking involved is not limited to transplants and vaccines. It is a logic that ignores free markets and works on the dictator principle. Are you saying if the same supply restrictions Ezekiel assumes, appear in other health products that he will use a different type of logic for those products?

    4. Again, you appear to jump to conclusions that are nowhere in the facts. Just which Austrian economists are "conservative"?

    Are you aware that Nobel lauretae and Austrian F.A. Hayek wrote a paper "Why I am not a conservative?"

    Do you know what the top Austrian institutions? Are you trying to say they are Austrian?

    You seem to read, but not comprehend.

  7. OK, you have now told me everything I need to know: you belive that scarce transplant organs should be allocated by selling them to the highest bidder. There really is not anything I can say in response to that.

  8. Quote from nyp: "OK, you have now told me everything I need to know: you belive that scarce transplant organs should be allocated by selling them to the highest bidder. There really is not anything I can say in response to that."

    I love how logical and scientific thinking causes the 'altruistic' want-to-be dictators of the world to abandon the debate because they're position has become ridiculous.