Trust me. Take a look.
Sarah Palin has a (boring) opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, wherein she (or rather her ghostwriter) reiterates her fears about “death panels.” She blames the government for high costs of Medicare and Medicaid yet says healthcare reform including reductions in costs as proposed by the President amount to “rationing.”
Now look at one way Mr. Obama wants to eliminate inefficiency and waste: He’s asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council—an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of “normal political channels,” should guide decisions regarding that “huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . .”
Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats’ proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans.
One wonders how healthcare costs can be reduced if plans to fund medical procedures that work, and eliminate those that do not, are not allowed to be enacted. There are huge amounts of wasteful spending throughout our healthcare system, public and private, and elimination of ineffective and unnecessary tests and treatments must occur to reduce costs and improve effectiveness at the same time. Characterizing elimination of waste as a type of “rationing by death panels” is shameful demagoguery. But is typical of the right in America today.
She also claims that healthcare reform will result in “unelected bureaucrats” making decisions affecting life and death healthcare matters. Well, even those of us lucky enough to have health insurance today must deal with decisions on life and death matters made exclusively by “unelected bureaucrats” in the private insurance companies or unelected employers deciding what coverage to offer. She seeks totally private healthcare which, by definition, is filled with nothing but “unelected” (and therefore absolutely unaccountable) bureaucrats. I would rather have a group of experts under government supervision making life and death decisions, not those who are paid to make such decisions in a manner designed to maximize the profits of a private company.
As I noted in an earlier post, a significant portion of the GOP believes in several fantasies. The situation is not getting better, and it is being noticed around the world. Take this piece by Johann Hari in The Independent. He lists the fantasies chapter and verse and in particular focuses on the Sarah Palin claim of “death panels.”
This trend has reached its apotheosis this summer with the Republican Party now claiming en masse that Obama wants to set up “death panels” to euthanise the old and disabled. Yes: Sarah Palin really has claimed – with a straight face – that Barack Obama wants to kill her baby.
You have to admire the audacity of the right. Here’s what’s actually happening. The US is the only major industrialised country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves – and 50 million people can’t afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can’t access the care they require. That’s equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being “killers” – and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.
How wacko can Republicans get? Well, Rush Limbaugh believe Sarah Palin has “intellectual heft” in her “death panel” remarks.
For a contrary view, you might want to take a look at what Robert Reich thinks are the real “death panels.”
Three years ago, my mother died after a long and painful illness. During her last months she was only partially conscious, and in her brief intervals of awareness was often distraught. At several points my father, sister, and I met with doctors to figure out how to ease her obvious suffering with pain medications, and how we could get her into a hospice facility. We could afford the counseling, but millions of other families cannot — which is why one of the useful heathcare reforms now moving through Congress authorizes Medicare to reimburse doctors for such voluntary end-of-life consultations. The American Medical Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization support the provision.
But in a cruel contortion, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin calls these consultations “death panels,” and in a Facebook posting late last night charges that they’ll force the elderly to accept minimal end-of-life care in order to reduce health care costs: “It’s misleading for the president to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients,” and added, “It’s all just more evidence that the Democratic legislative proposals will lead to health care rationing.” In her short time on the public stage, we’ve come to expect this sort of thing from Governor Palin. But listen to other Republicans these days — and if you can bear it, tune in to right-wing Hate Radio — and you’ll hear more of the same.
Health care is already rationed, of course. Those who can’t afford health insurance don’t get much of it, except in emergency rooms. For those who have insurance, the rationing is done by prepaid medical groups, the legacies of HMOs, that decide what drugs and procedures their members will get. Or it’s done by insurance company personnel who decide what will be covered.
Southern Beale takes on the right’s claims of “death panels” in the healthcare reform bills currently underway. In a direct rebuke to the remarks on the topic made by Sarah Palin, Beale writes:
You have no idea what it’s like to be called into a sterile conference room with a hospital administrator you’ve never met before and be told that your mother’s insurance policy will only pay for 30 days in ICU. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be advised that you need to “make some decisions,” like whether your mother should be released “HTD” which is hospital parlance for “home to die,” or if you want to pay out of pocket to keep her in the ICU another week. And when you ask how much that would cost you are given a number so impossibly large that you realize there really are no decisions to make. The decision has been made for you. “Living will” or no, it doesn’t matter. The bank account and the insurance policy have trumped any legal document.
If this isn’t a “death panel” I don’t know what is.
The entire piece is worth a read.
Sarah Palin, not surprisingly, continues to speak the language of her most ardent conservative wackos. On her face book page, she refers to Obama’s “death panel” that will ration healthcare based on a person’s productive contribution to society. She says the elderly and the disabled will not get needed care. Bullshit.
Asked specifically what the former governor was referring to when painting a picture of an Obama “death panel” giving her parents or son Trig a thumbs up or down based on their productivity, Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton responded in an email: “From HR3200 p. 425 see ‘Advance Care Planning Consultation’.”
That’s a curious reading of page 425 of the House Democrats’ bill, which refers to “advance care planning consultation,” defined as a senior and a medical practitioner discussing “advance care planning, if…the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years.”
This includes an “explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to,” an “explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses,” and an “explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.”
It directs the medical provider to give the patients “a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning,” and an explanation “of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title,” as well as “an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders.”
Factcheck.org disputes this interpretation, saying “accepted definition of end-of-life planning means thinking ahead about the care you would like to receive at the end of your life — which may include the choice to reject extraordinary measures of life support, or the choice to embrace them….the bill would not make these sessions mandatory.”
At least according to AlaskaReport:
AlaskaReport has learned this morning that Todd Palin and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin are to divorce. Multiple sources in Wasilla and Anchorage have confirmed the news.
A National Enquirer story exposing previous affairs on both sides led to a deterioration of their marriage and the stress from that led to Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska.
Update: This story has been denied by Palin spokesperson Meg Stapleton.
(via Huffington Post)
This is a good one. In her departure speech this weekend, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin told the audience that one should never apologize for America. Hmmm. It is indeed good to see her go. But there are some things that the country could apologize for, including slavery, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, the treatment of native Americans, the support of corrupt regimes all around the world, and medical experiments conducted on prisoners.
“I wish that some in the media would keep things like that in perspective, what is really important in our country. And what is important is our freedoms, America’s security, our liberty.” She then said, “Let us continue to love our country, be proud of our country, never apologize for our country.”
Yes, let’s be proud of America, but lets also have the strength to admit errors, apologize and move forward. Her approach is simplistic and actually anti-American.
If you have a strong stomach, you can watch the speech below.
This is quite interesting. None other than Peggy Noonan has lashed out at Sarah Palin in today’s Wall Street Journal. Here is a brief excerpt, but the entire piece is scathing.
In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. “I’m not wired that way,” “I’m not a quitter,” “I’m standing up for our values.” I’m, I’m, I’m.
In another age it might not have been terrible, but here and now it was actually rather horrifying.
The Idiocracy Index has posted a lengthy piece showing the 100 reason why Sarah Palin should be named the queen of the idiocracy. Here is one sample:
51. Her most passionate supporters appear to be incredibly racist and ill informed. These idiots are the “base” Gallup speaks of.
Andrew Sullivan, who has been opposed to Sarah Palin for some time and who has closely watched and reported on the (in)accuracy of some of her claims, has produced an encyclopedic listing of all her strange lies. An excerpt:
Palin lied when she said the dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, had nothing to do with his refusal to fire state trooper Mike Wooten; in fact, the Branchflower Report concluded that she repeatedly abused her power when dealing with both men.
Palin lied when she repeatedly claimed to have said, “Thanks, but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere; in fact, she openly campaigned for the federal project when running for governor.
Palin lied when she denied that Wasilla’s police chief and librarian had been fired; in fact, both were given letters of termination the previous day.
Palin lied when she wrote in the NYT that a comprehensive review by Alaska wildlife officials showed that polar bears were not endangered; in fact, email correspondence between those scientists showed the opposite.
Palin lied when she claimed in her convention speech that an oil gas pipeline “began” under her guidance; in fact, the pipeline was years from breaking ground, if at all.
Palin lied when she told Charlie Gibson that she does not pass judgment on gay people; in fact, she opposes all rights between gay spouses and belongs to a church that promotes conversion therapy.
Sarah Palin says she’s a fighter, not a quitter
– Headline from AP story all over the web, including here.