≡ Menu

Who Decides?

Here’s a letter to USA Today:

While the term “death panels” is over-the-top, the concern that sparks its use is real and justified (“Nonsense about ‘death panels’ springs back to life,” Jan. 10).

As you recognize, resources for supplying medical care are scarce, and will remain so forever.  This fact means that much medical care that would be provided in a world without scarcity must go unprovided in reality.  And so the question arises: who decides which medical treatments to undergo and which to forego?

To the extent that government is charged with supplying medical care – either directly or by paying for it – the entity that will unavoidably answer the above question is government.  Decisions about which treatments to pursue and for how long will, of necessity, be removed from patients and their families.  These decisions will instead be made by strangers.

Call this impersonal decision-making process what you will.  Government cannot be given greater responsibility for supplying health care without also being given greater power to deny life-saving treatments – and the duty, in many cases, to do so.

Donald J. Boudreaux