Med-Ridden

By Bill Maher

One of the problems America faces is we have an entire generation walking around whacked out on drugs.  And you can't tell them anything because they're defiant and they think they know all the answers.  I’m talking, of course, about America’s seniors.  They're slurring their speech, falling down and practically catatonic -- and that's just what I noticed watching "The Expendables 2."

An ABC News report regarding a new Dutch study confirms what we already know, that many of our seniors fall victim to "polypharmia," getting prescribed way more drugs than are necessary or healthy.  The report says,

"One in five prescriptions written for elderly patients were inappropriate." and, "By some estimates, approximately 30 percent of hospital admissions of elderly patients are related to medication toxic effects."

And the problem isn't just the drugs.  Our for-profit medical industry cleans up preying on our inability to face our parents' and grandparents’ mortality. The dying are kept artificially alive for weeks, sometimes months, at ICU costs of up to ten grand a day.  A 2010 CBS News/60Minutes report points out,

"Last year, Medicare paid $55 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients' lives. That's more than the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, or the Department of Education. And it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenses may have had no meaningful impact. Most of the bills are paid for by the federal government with few or no questions asked."

In that 60 Minutes report, a doctor explains,

“Something like 18 to 20 percent of Americans spend their last days in an ICU. And, you know, it's extremely expensive. It's uncomfortable. Many times they have to be sedated so that they don't reflexively pull out a tube, or sometimes their hands are restrained. This is not the way most people would want to spend their last days of life. And yet this has become almost the medical last rites for people as they die."

I'm not suggesting we adopt death panels to decide who lives and who dies, but if we weren't such a pussy nation afraid to address sensitive issues, wouldn't we be having an intelligent, uncomfortable discussion about the difference between prudent senior care and just backing up a dump truck full of cash to the problem?