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January 5, 1990

Old Age and New Policy

Author Affiliations

St Joseph Hospital Chicago, Ill

St Joseph Hospital Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1990;263(1):33. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440010031009

To the Editor.—  The medical profession is well aware of governmental and societal needs to contain the cost of providing care to the American population. However, a recent commentary by Dr Callahan1 attempts to create new meaning for geriatric care under the guise of cost containment and allocation of resources.Franz Kafka could not have portrayed a more ominous view of our society than Dr Callahan when he proposed "a flat age limitation on the most expensive forms of life-extending care." We are not a homogeneous society. Any physician actively participating in the care of our geriatric segment of the population can attest to the fact that some 85-year-olds are more productive and functional than some of our 60-year-olds, who may have reached the end of their "natural life span in the sense of our common biographies." To follow Dr Callahan's train of thought, the next segment of