Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mitch Daniels Talks Futile Care

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels touched the Medicare third rail yesterday when talking about how to cut the government program that covers health care for older Americans. Writes Laura Meckler at The Wall Street Journal:

He added that he understands the urge by families to push for what may be futile care. “It’s the most human thing in the world,” he said. “Your loved one is in desperate shape.” He said “we can try this thing that has almost no chance of working” but questioned whether it is worth it, especially given that “it’s going to cost an incredible amount of money.”

It's interesting that a Republican and so many others have this conversation in the framework of cost-cutting and not under the rubric of a more humane consideration regarding futile care: the harm, both physical and emotional that is exerted on family and the patient by futile care.

Daniels stopped short of suggesting, as the Obama administration did briefly, that doctors should be reimbursed for conversations with patients about end of life choices.

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