End of Life Care: Should We Ration It? - Join Chicago Ideas Week Discussion Tonight

End of Life Care can involve many elements and for America's seniors, the care costs are paid for by Medicare or Medicaid (very low-income seniors qualify for Medicaid which does pay for ongoing care in a nursing home while Medicare does not).  All seniors receive Medicare health insurance at age 65. 

Tonight, in Chicago, an Oxford-style debate will discuss the issue of "End of Life Care" and when this should be rationed.  Just because we can extend life, should we? And should the government pay for this? The debate will air on 220 NPR stations nationwide and include live tweets and a vote from the audience at the end of the debate.

The Baby Boomer generation has started the journey into their retirement years (both Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush are age 66 and are at the beginning of the Boomer generation age group which includes those born between the years of 1946 and 1964).

Funding Medicare and Medicaid as the senior population more than triples in the next decade is a concern along with the advancements in technology which allow people to live longer, with the aid of medications and machines.

But when should end of life care be rationed?  Just because we can extend a life, should we?  The U.S. will spend more than $2.8 trillion on health care in 2012 and Medicare costs taxpayers $590 billion (remember, everyone age 65 and above receives Medicare health insurance and as many as 1/3rd of these seniors were without health insurance prior to Medicare which also contributes to higher care costs because of the lack of preventive healthcare - - - the new healthcare law may actually help reduce Medicare costs because of this fact).

But how much is an extra month of life worth?  If health care is a scarce resource, limited by its availability and our ability to pay for it, should government step in to ration care, deciding whose life is worth saving?

Chicago Ideas Week debates End-of-Life care tonight in an interactive format.  Moderated by John Donvan of ABC News, "Should we ration end of life care?" will take place:

Tonight, October 10th

Time: 7:30 to 9:15 p.m. Eastern Time

Place:  Albert Theatre at Goodman Thaetare, 170 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago

Live Tweets:  Use Hashtag #IQ2US

NPR Stations:  220 NPR stations will air this Intelligence Squared debate + PBS Channel 13, WNET, WLIW & NJTV

Streamed on WSJ Live

Chicago Ideas Week "End of Life, Should it be Rationed?" Debate Panel:

  • Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University (in support)
  • Art Kellerman, Chair in Policy Analysis at the RAND Corporation (in support)
  • Ken Connor, Ken Connor founder and Chiarman of the Center for a Just Society (argue against)
  • Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific research Institute (PRI) (argue against)

What do you think? Should End-of-Life care be rationed? How do you decide?  Who pays for it?  As all senior caregivers now, many times a prolonged ending can go on to long.  It will be interesting to hear the outcome of this Chicago Ideas Week debate tonight. Join the discussion and review the daily costs of nursing home care nationwide to understand the Medicare and Medicaid senior care costs and the financial impact and financial devastation that can also happen when extending life.



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