Alan Reynolds: Death Panels? Sarah Palin Was Right

Alan Reynolds at the Cato Insititute takes a look at PolitiFact’s phony criticism of Governor Palin’s death panel claim in a great article today. Here are a few excepts:

The claim that Governor Palin confused one-on-one counseling between doctors and patients with any sort of “panel” was always ridiculous on its face. Indeed, that claim should itself have been a leading candidate for “Lie of the Year.” Yet Palin’s critics kept on equating death panels with counseling throughout the year, as though they could not even begin to understand plain English.

[…]

The shameless hoax that Palin had confused individual consulting with rationing by a panel was repeated endlessly. By November, the Washington Post was treating this obvious canard as a established fact: “Proposed health-care reform legislation includes a provision that allows Medicare to pay for “end-of-life” counseling for seniors and their families who request it. The provision — which Sarah Palin erroneously described as “death panels” for seniors — nearly derailed President Obama’s health-care initiative.”

What Palin wrote about death panels clearly had nothing to do with counseling or with any other specifics in seminal House bill. What she wrote was: “Government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course.”

How could anyone believe Palin’s sensible comment about rationing was, in reality, a senseless fear of counseling? To say so was no mistake; it was an oft-repeated big lie.

Rather than even mentioning the House bill, Palin linked to an interesting speech by “Rep. Michele Bachmann [which] highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff.”

Dr. Emmanuel’s varied and murky remarks about using panels of experts (like himself) to ration health care are less clear or less candid than those of another bioethicist, Peter Singer of Princeton. Singer’s article, “Why We Must Ration Health Care,” was a cover feature in The New York Times Magazine on July 15 — shortly before Palin took the opposing side of this issue.

[…]

Actually, it’s clear enough that the proposed Medicare cuts won’t be achieved, but that efforts in that direction will nonetheless reduce access to care and diminish its quality. The government can’t boost demand and cut prices without creating excess demand. And that, in turn, means rationing by longer waiting lines and by panels (rationing boards) making life-or death decisions for other people.

As Sarah Palin predicted, “Government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course.”

 

Read the entire article here.



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