26 November 2007

Dying Well

The good bits in this article are the names: Tanya O. Walker-Butts, Gaines C. McCorquodale, Loretta L. Pettway, and Dr. Sumpter D. Blackmon.  Apparently, everyone in Camden, Alabama, gives a middle initial when speaking with a reporter from the New York Times.

But the bad bits in the article start early, like the second paragraph:

Over the last eight years, the refusal of patients to die according to actuarial schedules has led the federal government to demand that hospices exceeding reimbursement limits repay hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicare.

Darn those patients, refusing to die on a timetable that would please insurance agencies.  Reminds me of that Monty Python skit: "I'm getting better!" the old man says.  "No you're not," says the Cleese character, who proceeds to beg the rotating "Bring Out Yer Dead" gatherer to help him a bit.  He finally agrees and finishes the elderly one off with a hit to the head.  

An unfortunate picture of our Medicare situation today, it seems.  Preferable to whack the ill prematurely on the head and lob them on top of the wheelbarrow with the rest of the dead than to provide help and care until the last natural day.

It seems rather grievous to me that we would not consider it a privilege to serve the dying.  A civilized society such as ours has ample resources; indeed, we are so technologically advanced that we have ample means to create the problem in the first place by medically prolonging life past when it wants to live.

Let us protect our elderly and care for the dying.  No unnecessary tubes or needles but simple, authentic service.  Hospice can be a true blessing, enabling the ill to celebrate their final days sometimes in their own homes but always with comfort.  What a wonder!  

So shame on Medicare for fleecing hospice providers just because they actually did a good job, continuing to care for the dying even when they refused to die.  And may we all instead show much mercy, learning to show such care to those around us.

1 comment:

Rachel A. Hood, Mobile, AL said...

well put!