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August 13th, 2009
11:25 AM ET

Emanuel's brother becomes a target

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/05/health.care.poll/art.dem.health.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. Harry Reid, center, talks about health care flanked by Sens. Christopher Dodd, left, and Charles Schumer."]
Naftali Bendavid
The Wall Street Journal

Ezekiel Emanuel, a top health-care adviser to President Barack Obama and older brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is emerging as a target of conservatives critical of Democrats' health-care effort.

Dr. Emanuel, a prominent oncologist and medical ethicist who has taught at Harvard Medical School and served at the National Institutes of Health, has written dozens of scholarly articles over the years. Critics are using his writings to suggest Dr. Emanuel favors withholding care from the elderly and disabled.

One of their most-cited examples is a 1996 article Dr. Emanuel wrote in the bioethics journal Hastings Center Report. Exploring which medical services should be guaranteed to all Americans, Dr. Emanuel cited an approach that would favor active people, adding, "An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."

In a radio interview last month, Betsy McCaughey, a scholar at the conservative Hudson Institute, cited the article in asserting that Dr. Emanuel believes patients with incurable diseases shouldn't be guaranteed health care. She and other critics have suggested a tie between Dr. Emanuel's views and a provision in a House health bill that would pay doctors to counsel Medicare patients on end-of-life issues such as living wills. Ms. McCaughey said the bill provided "counseling on how to cut your life short."

The White House forcefully defends Dr. Emanuel, saying he is an academic who explores tough questions surrounding life and death.

In an interview Tuesday, Dr. Emanuel said his 1996 piece was "attempting to analyze different philosophical trends," not expressing his own views. Dr. Emanuel noted that he was a well-known opponent of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Barack Obama • Health Care
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Cindy

    If he had his way, my mother would not have been able to have lived as long as she did with Alzheimer. So sad!.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:19 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    Health care is already rationed by affordibility – if you don't have the insurance for it or the cash then you drop to the back of the line. Transplanted organs do not usually go to people who are very old and would not live that much longer regardless of the transplant. And we are already paying for health care for illegals in our insurance premiums and our direct care hospital and doctor costs. I think we need to look at what is proposed calmly and then write our congressman about the provisions that trouble us. All this yelling and strife do nothing to advance knowledge gathering or the exchange of ideas.

    August 13, 2009 at 8:10 pm |
  3. Joe G. (Illinois)

    It’s not something for everybody to read a book from front page to back cover. And with Obama… Even the people from The Congress and Senate have proven that. But common sense is a sense after all and people just have it..! It may not be one of taste, smell, touch, sight or hearing, but a sense after nonetheless.. To cattle prong America into Obama’s spending sprees was easy during that short while and commotion, but even his shallow supporters seem to have grown tick skin. A challenge for Obama I’ll say..

    August 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  4. Fed Up

    Nice guy, hope nobody he cares about gets dementia!! Anyone who thinks the propsed healthcare reform won't ration their health care better hope they stay healthy. Look at the facts and not the false promises when the politicians LIE to you. Their facts and figures DON'T add up, yet everyone is willing to blindly jump in. I am NOT willing to pay more to provide health care for illegals!

    August 13, 2009 at 12:23 pm |