On Death Panels

Sarah Palin - ObamaCare - Affordable Heathcare Act - Death Panels

Normally, I try not to lend this person’s activities any of my time or attention, but Politico reports that Sarah Palin is resurrecting her scaremongering “death panel” message in anticipation of the upcoming US Supreme Court ruling on the new health care law’s constitutionality.

Says Politico:

Palin charged in a August 2009 Facebook post that the Democrats’ health care bill would empower a “death panel” of government bureaucrats who can decide who lives or dies. The 2009 claim earned Palin Politifact’s “Lie of the Year,” but she said today that the president’s health care law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board makes life-or-death decisions.

“It was a pretty long post, but a lot of people seem to have only read two words of it: ‘death panel,’” Palin wrote today. “Though I was called a liar for calling it like it is, many of these accusers finally saw that Obamacare did in fact create a panel of faceless bureaucrats who have the power to make life and death decisions about health care funding.”

No, Palin. People read the whole thing, their minds just stuck on those two words – “death panel” – because it was such an outrageous distortion of one of the best bits about the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare. Requiring health insurance providers to cover end-of-life care discussions between patients and their doctors was an excellent idea, one that would have encouraged thousands of Americans to decide whether or not they would want very aggressive and costly treatment during their final days, potentially saving them or their loved ones from unnecessary and prolonged pain and anguish when the time comes, not to mention saving vast sums of money and lowering insurance premiums for everyone.

Equating this with a room full of stern bureaucrats weighing the value of your life in their hands and deciding whether or not you are worthy of treatment was a case of shameful fantasy and hyperbole, and ultimately resulted in this provision being struck from the finished law – and you think that you are doing the American people a service?

Essentially, this seems to come down to a quibble about which invisible, mysterious forces are allowed to exercise life-or-death decisions over us (for after all, there is potentially unlimited demand for healthcare, and very limited resources to go around). Palin seems to prefer the invisible hand over the faceless bureaucrat, but if she could think in full colour rather than monochrome black/white, right/wrong for just a moment, she might realise that rationing of healthcare inevitably occurs in any system, and that the unchecked free market is little better a solution than the dark room of emotionless socialist bureaucrats created by her fevered imagination.


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