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Sacrificing Harry and Louise

Is it OK to cut health care costs by asking grandpa and grandma to die at home?

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One of the scariest claims about government-run health care is that politicians may have the power to euthanize your grandmother. Many liberals say this talk is nothing more than a conservative smear campaign against the president's effort to overhaul the system. But an unlikely pair of pieces today wonder if the extraordinary amount of money spent on end-of-life care might be better spent on the rest of us. And very politely, they ponder whether asking the elderly to die at home may not be so horrible after all.

Conservative fixture Pat Buchanan devoted his syndicated column to bemoan the skyrocketing costs for end-of-life care. It's only logical, he concluded, for the government to gently nudge Harry and Louise into the grave. Meanwhile, Salon slapped a jaw-dropping headline on a similar opinion: "Harry and Louise must die." Anne Moore, the essay's writer, made similar economic points but also asserted that this was a moral issue as well:

We can die with dignity and love, less expensively. We can put our fears to rest. Fill out a living will; say no to excessive care. Own the way you die. And die as you lived, surrounded by family and friends.

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