The legendary civil libertarian Nat Hentoff is worried about what the government’s takeover of health care is going to do to our ability to make our own life or death medical decisions. He has a chilling piece on this over at Cato, where Hnetoff is a fellow. The crux of the matter:

In all of American history, this is the first time the national government will have the power to decide, in many cases, and a range of ages, how many of us will be permitted to go on living. Who will decide?

Who indeed? Hentoff points to something “hidden” in the 2009 stimulus bill: the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (later superseded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute). Sound Orwellian? It is. It is an “unelected council” that will provide a framework for health care rationing.

Composed of 15 members appointed by the president, the Coordinating Council – along with the stimulus bill’s additional National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (some of which may be ruled as too costly) – will review your doctor’s diagnosis of the treatment for your condition with regard to the cost of government funds involved in that treatment.

There are, in addition, hordes of bureaucrats also involved in deciding your future on this Earth. As described by the firmly nonpolitical Congressional Research Service (Wall Street Journal, “Obamacare, for some,” October 29), there is “a currently unknowable number of new boards, commissions and offices” in this “bureaucratic apparatus.”

Adds this report: “it is currently impossible to know how much influence they will ultimately have” on who will live or die (sorry, I meant “expire”), thereby helping the government cut its deficit. …

There is so much more we need to know. Ardently defending Obamacare in the November 4 New York Times (“To save money, save the Health Care Act”), here is Peter Orszag (director of White House Office of Management and Budget, 2009-2010 and “distinguished visiting fellow” at the Council on Foreign Relations.”) This is something I didn’t know, and maybe neither did you. He writes:

“Perhaps most important, the legislation creates an Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of independent medical experts who will look for more ways to improve Medicare’s cost-effectiveness (with regard to your health care). Under the law, any policy that the board issues takes effect unless legislation to block it is passed by Congress and signed by the president.” That looks like the only way to block it. But even if the president vetoes this blocking legislation, the Board’s rules still apply.

Can you believe this: There is no judicial review!

But what if Barack Obama is re-elected in 2012 and the Democrats take over the House and Senate – voting, as before, in lockstep with the president on Obamacare, therefore killing any opposition legislation to what this Independent Advisory Board has decided, and what all those other boards and commissions conclude your life is worth, whatever your own doctor wants to do for, and with you, personally?

Would this still be America? Is it now?

Needless to say, Mr. Hentoff believes that “tweaking” the health care bill is insufficient and fears for us all if it is not repealed.