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Set No Limits: A Rebuttal to Daniel Callahan's Proposal to Limit Health Care for the Elderly

William J. Bicknell, MD, MPH
JAMA. 1993;269(16):2148. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500160118049.
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Set No Limits is a collection of essays critiquing Daniel Callahan's Setting Limits: Medical Goals in an Aging Society (New York, NY, Simon & Schuster, 1987). Intense interest in national health insurance, the influence of older Americans on the political process, and a new administration entering the White House make the issues raised in these essays particularly relevant.

Because Set No Limits is a critique, and a serious weakness is the author's often inadequate and incorrect portrayal of Callahan's thesis, it is important for the reader to have direct knowledge of his purpose and thesis. In brief, Callahan seeks "to stimulate a public discussion of the future of health care for the aged [and] to propose... using age as a specific criterion for the allocation and limitation of health care" (p 23). He notes longer life expectancy, growth of health care costs, and vast expenditures on health care for older


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