Last week, Sarah Palin wrote on her FaceBook page about a provision in HR3200, calling them 'Death Panels'. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=113851103434
This phrase caused an uproar amongst supporters of the bill, and some thoughtful consideration on the part of opposition. Had she gone too far? Has she lost her mind? There was much debate, both for: http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2009/08/inconvenient-truth-about-death-panel.html
and against: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_08/019420.php .
Finally, in his NH town hall this week, President Obama referenced her comments and attempted to make light of them. After all, there's no truth to the crazy stuff she was spouting, right? Well, Mrs. Palin has made another statement on her FaceBook page today in support of her statements, complete with footnotes. http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=24718773587
I'm glad she reiterated that the 'totally voluntary' nature of the legislation is a complete fallacy - when you pay someone to recommend something (like end-of-life counselling), they will recommend it frequently. After all, didn't our own President twice say that doctors perform unnecessary operations in order to make more money? Wouldn't it be far easier to make that money by suggesting counselling than by ripping out some poor kids' perfectly healthy tonsils or lopping off random limbs, as Dear Leader has accused? Not to mention I hardly think mandatory counselling every 5 years or if you are diagnosed with a serious illness can be considered 'voluntary'.
Let us consider, too, the concept of rationing. The administration insists there will be absolutely NO rationing. I beg to differ. According to their estimates, they will be adding 47 million people to the insurance rolls, but we are currently experiencing a shortage of both nurses AND doctors. These are not jobs that you can fill with unskilled workers, and we all know it takes years to train new doctors and nurses. So right out of the gate, there will be a shortage of care due to a shortage of health care workers.
Now lets consider what else might cause rationing. Well, with so many people on board, the costs are going to skyrocket. Especially if, as many maintain, businesses decide it's cheaper to have their staff on the public option, and people start abandoning the private sector for the cheaper public option. According to many in the administration, a single payer option is the ultimate goal, and if they have to take it step by step over a decade, so be it, as long as the goal is reached. Once that goal is reached, the cost of the program will become prohibitive, and cost-cutting solutions will start to be enforced.
Add to that the possibility of an economic crisis - caused, say, by the FED pumping unbacked trillions of dollars into the marketplace, causing the dollar to lose value and interest rates to soar. That would cause a major shortage of tax revenue to pay for massive entitlement programs, and would necessarily provoke rationing to save the bureaucracy from collapse.
Am I saying there will be Orwellian-style 'Death Panels'? Well, first of all, I'm sure they won't call them that. They'll probably use a harmless sounding acronym like the British have http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/health/03nice.html . NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has decided that a human life is worth around $45,000 per year. If your health care is going to cost more than that, due to expensive procedures or drugs, they consider your life not worthy of prolonging. Was it a panel of doctors who decided that? No. It was a panel of bureaucrats, crunching the numbers. And here's the kicker - if you decide to pay for the drugs/procedures out of your own pocket, the State will refuse to pay for the rest of your care.
Would you call that a death panel?
Yes, her phrasing was a bit over the top, evoking Orwellian images of standing before faceless bureaucrats, but, truly, is it that far off the mark? Really the only difference right now in Britain is that the bureaucrats don't actually see you - there is no face to your case for them, you are merely a number. Which, if you think about it, is even scarier, because it removes all humanity from the decision.
I DO disagree with her on one thing from her original statement. She states that both her senior parents AND her Down's syndrome child would face the panel. I think poor Trig wouldn't even make it that far. According to the beliefs of both our Science Czar, John Holdren, and Obama's health care advisor, Ezekiel Emanuel, a fetus with Down's Syndrome would be a non-productive drain on the system, and would necessarily be terminated (in the case of Holdren, even if it is involuntary termination). Heck, Holdren believes that a born baby will "ultimately develop into a human being". He doesn't really specify at what age they miraculously become human, but it is far past the time of birth, and requires two things - nourishment and socialization in the 'crucial early years after birth'. Yeah, but Palin's the crazy one. If you'd like to read more about Mr. Holdren's beliefs check out his manifesto, called EcoScience. It was published in the '70's, but he has NEVER ONCE refuted his positions.
What we all need to keep in mind when it comes to this bill and others, is the concept of a 'foot in the door'. I think that, ultimately, that is what Sarah Palin is trying to illustrate with her '1984'-like imagery of Death Panels.
By small increments are we brought to a new reality.
UPDATE: Looks like the sunshine Mrs. Palin turned on this subject has done it's job:
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION!!