To Fear or Not to Fear: A New Obama Appointee

January 10, 2012 09:00 AM

The recess appointment by President Obama of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the most recent point of controversy regarding the style with which the president conducts this nation from his office. Upon appointing Cordray without the approval of the United States Senate, Obama said, “I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Cordray, formerly the attorney general of the state of Ohio, was a strong supporter of President Obama’s national healthcare law and, in fact, refused to join other states that filed lawsuits in an attempt to stop the law from negatively affecting Americans. Clearly if Cordray had been vetted by the Senate, there would have been some heated debate. Obama avoided that.

Cordray’s new post as leader of the CFPB puts him in charge of a bureaucracy that oversees mortgage companies, debt collectors, and other such entities. In addition to the financial end of things, the CFPB has an Office of Older Americans which is headed by a former AARP executive, Naomi Karp. Karp works on several challenging projects that directly affect older Americans—plans that include health care and long-term care planning.

Our concern with Karp is that she, among others, is an advocate of POLST programs (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). While with AARP she focused on the progress of POLST programs in 12 states. In her review, which she co-authored with Charles Sabatino, is this statement: “Effective POLST training and education should not be viewed in isolation. It requires long-term integration with medical and professional training and education on chronic care, long-term care, palliative care, and communication skills. Advocates should define realistic goals for a multiyear implementation process both for POLST and for the larger culture change goals.”

The use of terms such as “culture change goals” and “palliative care” can be worrisome when one digs deeper into the nature of those organizations and entities that have been at the forefront of repackaging end-of-life care with a view toward using “comfort care” as an expedited way out of living.

This is not to say that Karp is involved with the advocacy of euthanasia, but it is a question that deserves careful vetting by those in government who are responsible for the health and welfare of American citizens—particularly in the case of the aging. Who examined Karp’s former projects when she was in an executive position with AARP? Who questioned her professional philosophy on end-of-life care and the use of comfort-care medications or abuse of such drugs?

I have no answers, but then again, I am not elected by the American people to oversee how the government is handling public policy that affects health care.

Now that Obama has ignored the Senate and abused the powers of his office by appointing a man he did not want the Senate to examine, one has to wonder what in the world has happened to America! Something is fundamentally broken with the way America operates. The Constitution appears to have been swept into the closet. With that in mind, I worry about government programs designed to monitor money lenders with divisions that are poking around in how older Americans are being cared for when they become ill. 

The repackaging of POLST as consumer protection falls right into line with Obama’s healthcare law cheerleaders—including Cordray and Karp.

We close with the words of Julie Grimstad, executive director of Life is Worth Living, Inc., whose thoughts seem most appropriate at this point: “POLST sets the stage for neglect, substandard medical treatment, and cost-saving at the expense of patients’ lives. Although POLST promoters steer clear of mentioning the money motive, it is undoubtedly a factor in efforts to limit treatment.” 

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