You probably remember the controversy over Sarah Palin’s charge six years ago that the Affordable Health Care Act would include “death panels” that would ration health care, effectively deciding in some cases who lives and who dies.
The assertion by Palin, the former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate, was PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” at the end of 2009. On her Facebook page, she wrote that “the sick, the elderly, and the disabled” would suffer most.
“The America I know and love,” Palin said, “is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
But lawmakers crafting Obamacare did propose panels that would decide whether or not a health-care procedure was worth paying for. And now, as the Associated Press reports, changes for Medicare in 2016 include “coverage for end-of-life counseling.”
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The AP said Medicare will pay clinicians to counsel patients about options for care at the end of life.
The report said the voluntary counseling would have been authorized earlier by Obamacare if not for the outcry prompted by Palin’s “death panel” charge.
“Hastily dropped from the law, the personalized counseling has been rehabilitated through Medicare rules,” the report said.
In 2014, WND reported Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who helped craft Obamacare as health-policy adviser at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said he thought people should die at the age 75.
In a column for Atlantic magazine, Emanuel, the brother of then-Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel, who now is Chicago’s mayor, argued improvements in health care that extend life expectancies through vaccines, antibiotics and technological innovations end up “stretching out old age,” resulting in “a progressive erosion of physical functioning.”
While Emanuel emphasized the personal benefits of forgoing measures that extend life, the unspoken issue is the scarcity of resources in a system beholden to a fixed government budget.
If older people don’t follow his chosen course and willingly allow resources to be distributed more to the younger, productive workers in society, government bureaucrats will inevitably enter into those health-care decisions.
Emanuel concluded that by the time he reaches 75, he will have lived “a complete life” in which he envisions having seen his children grow up, his grandchildren born and his life projects basically completed.
“Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy,” he wrote. “Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life.”
Four years ago, the Obama administration proposed a reimbursement scale for doctors who have an end-of-life talk with their patients, the Los Angeles Times reported. The plan, stemming from the Department of Health and Human Services, was tucked inside a massive Medicare regulatory bill unveiled on Capitol Hill.
Under the proposal, patients would not be required to talk to their doctors about end-of-life care. Rather, the measure only provides a means for doctors to bill Medicare for “advance-care planning,” should the patient have such discussion, the news outlet said.
At the beginning, the president proposed an Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would determine government reimbursement rates for medical procedures. It was that panel that mostly drew the tag “death panel.”
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, author of the book “Doctor in the House,” which is on the nationalization of health care, said the IPAB was a bad idea when ex-Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., proposed it and voters removed him from office, and it hasn’t gotten better.
“Now for the first time ever the primary party for health care for seniors, Medicare, is going to be able to tell you what kind of care you can get, where and when you can get it and worst of all, when you’ve had enough,” he told WND.
“If all you’re looking to do is be able to figure how to take care of old people cheaply, this is the way to go,” he said. “If what you want to provide is meaningful medical care, why would you set up or embellish a system that leads to waiting lists and rationing?”
The comments from Krugman, who also writes on the New York Times blogs, came during a discussion of “Obamacare” on the ABC News Sunday program “This Week.”
“People on the right, they’re simultaneously screaming, ‘They’re going to send all the old people to death panels,’ and ‘It’s not going to save any money,'” he said.
Another panelist interjected, “Death panels would save money.”
Krugman responded that the “advisory panel, which has the ability to make more or less binding judgments on saying this particular expensive treatment, actually doesn’t do any good medically and so we are not going to pay for it.”
“That is actually going to save quite a lot of money,” he said. ‘We don’t know how much yet. The CBO gives it very little credit but, but most, most of the health care economists I talk to think that’s going be a really, uh, a really major cost saving.”