Death Panels?

18 Oct

As I was walking out of my town’s poling place for New Jersey’s big fat election this past Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think about why people support the politicians they vote for and why we do in fact vote for… who we vote for. And for some reason that got me thinking about “death panels” and how that phrase came about and why there are still so many people who believe that it is actually a true part of the Affordable Care Act and as a consequence are against the ACA and the Democrats who support it.

It all started back in 2009 when Sarah Palin coined the term and told the nation that if President Obama’s healthcare reform were passed it would create “death panels” of bureaucrats who would then be in charge of deciding if the elderly or infirm or disabled should live, rather than receive healthcare.

Of course it was immediately proven to be a false statement and an outrageous lie but that didn’t stop Ms. Palin and other right wing Republican politicians from repeating the claim over and over and over again. And to this day Ms. Palin still insists that the ACA establishes actual honest to goodness “death panels”… and polls have shown that a full 30% of Americans still believe her and name this as being a reason for their opposition to the ACA.

So I thought to myself…let’s just imagine for a wild and fanciful moment that their truly were such an outrageous thing as a death panel, approved and authorized by a government agency. Who would be the political party most likely to do such a thing?

Liberal Democrats? Really? We’d say, “Give them more food stamps! or Provide better housing and care and raise taxes to make rich people pay for it!”…wouldn’t we? Why would a “bleeding heart liberal democrat” sponsor legislation that would provide healthcare for everyone and then suggest that we also kill more people?

Wouldn’t a Conservative Republican Tea Party member, someone who wants to limit healthcare, is against food stamps, hates the very thought of undocumented immigrants receiving any kind of government anything, wants to privatized and limit Social Security, be more the likely candidate for such an idea?…someone exactly like Sarah Palin…more the kind of person who would think that a “death panel” could actually be a good thing, especially when it comes to weeding out the weak and impoverished and those who can’t “pay their own way” or “pick themselves up by their bootstraps”?

You know, the party that believes that 47% of Americans are freeloaders?

Yet the 30% who believe that Sarah Palin is still telling the truth, have it the other way around. They think that we liberals want death panels.

That just makes no sense to me at all.

Couldn’t you see Sarah Palin shooting illegals from a helicopter on national television as they try to run back to Mexico while shouting “You betcha you’d better run!” Or Ted Cruz at an anti Obamacare photo-op at the foot of a bed in a hospital’s geriatric ward where he says, “We’re not gonna let this old lady face a death panel!” Just as he pulls the plug on her life support?

Why would President Obama create a death panel? He’s the guy who likes to give things away, and tax and spend up the wazoo right? And besides isn’t he an illegal immigrant too? (23% of Republicans sill believe that one!)

The Affordable Care Act may not be the greatest legislation to ever come out of Congress but it’s a start and certainly a step in a better direction than we have been headed. And those who are against it are really in favor of keeping 50 million Americans in what already amounts to something of a death panel…that being America’s mega-rich insurance companies who have been deciding for years who does and who does not have the right to healthcare.

Death panels indeed! Who died and left them in charge?


13 Responses to “Death Panels?”

  1. RAB October 18, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    I believe we look at the world and see…ourselves. So the swindler sees everyone as a potential (or active) swindler; the deeply kind person believes other people are probably kind, the violent person lives in constant expectation of violence, …and the person with a pinched little mind thinks everyone else has a pinched little mind.

    • Susanna October 22, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      It’s called projection. I agree with you!

  2. A Voice October 18, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    Here’s the perspective of a criminal…with a degree:

    At what point do we consider it criminal to make legitimate attempts to misinform a large body of people, to manipulate them with blatant lies into a position that is obviously harmful relative to the position they are lying about? When is deliberately harmful speech the equivalent of yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre?

    I don’t think that ACA is the best possible solution or even a very good one because it leaves much to be desired, notably not touching the core of the Disease Care problem. But not being the best possible solution or a very good solution does not, in fact, mean that the solution is bad or even egregiously harmful. It simply means that the ACA leaves much to be desired while being a legitimate, undeniably solid step in the right direction.

    Hell, my girlfriend was able to receive care (testing, two surgeries, upcoming trip or trips to receive nuclear medicine, et al) for thyroid cancer that would have otherwise crushed us financially. She was able to receive this because of the ACA and would NOT have been able to receive this care in a timely fashion without it.

    But saying that the ACA is a step in the right direction also calls into question the point of when can something be considered criminal.

    At what point is it criminal for corporations that make incredible profits like GE and others to pay ABSOLUTELY NO TAXES and for Republicans (and others) to deliberately misinform the public while talking about fairness, ‘what is right’ and freedom? At what point, again, over and beyond ridiculous notions of ‘relativity of data’ and ‘needs more testing’, should this be considered criminal behaviour?

    I can’t teach because of a criminal record, hell some warehouses won’t let me even apply for work, but people like Ted Cruz have a job…

  3. Morgan Mussell October 18, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    Unfortunately, when the death panel rumors started, Obama was still doing what H.L. Menken warned against – overestimating the intelligence of “the American people.” He should have instantly called a press conference to refute the absurdity.

    John Kerry made the same mistake in not immediately countering the “swift boat” crap during the 2004 election.

    Hopefully, since the 2012 election, the Democrats have learned that they need to play hardball, and that in this era of Fox news, “truth” has little or nothing to do with what people may believe.

  4. Barbara Backer-Gray October 18, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Reblogged this on Resident Alien — Being Dutch in America and commented:
    My thoughts exactly.

  5. Ravi Chander October 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Contrary to what Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and even GOP supporters believe, illegal immigrants do not get free health care. Not even with ‘Obamacare’.

    This is what happened to an undocumented long-time resident of NJ when he ended up in the hospital due to a stroke –
    N.J. immigrant deported by hospital to Poland during stroke recovery

  6. crossinh October 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    I am constantly defending the ACA to my more conservative friends. My opinion is that it is a starting point. The is far from perfect but now that we have something on the books, we can tweak it into something better.

  7. Jae October 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Howard Dean calls the Independent Payment Advisory Board “essentially a health-care rationing body.” (See his piece in the Wall Street Journal, July 2013). Death panels is certainly a buzz word from Republicans to catch attention (which Democrats do equally as often), but it the IPAB does have the power as Dean said to “stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them.” I don’t think a Republican or Democrat would outright say “sorry, you have to die.” What these bureaucrats would do is tell people something like, “Sorry, this treatment is too expensive.” Or “you’re welcome to get it, if you can find a hospital that will perform it.”

    Call it what you will, but rationed healthcare certainly seems to be coming.

    Putting the government in charge of healthcare is a bad idea and I’m sure in the weeks and months to come we’ll find out exactly how bad of an idea. (Excluding that the rollout has already been a disaster). I do wonder if it had been Bush’s idea how many who support it now would have supported it then. Can’t wait to find out how much my premium will go up… *sigh*

    • A Voice October 19, 2013 at 12:47 am #

      Three points.

      First, in respect to “rationed healtchare”…well, we already have that. When insurance companies make decisions that impact what things are covered and to what degree healthcare is legitimately being rationed. Right, wrong, or indifferent, “rationed healthcare” is what we have now and the ACA is serving to adjust how that rationing is taking place. The direction of the adjustment is aimed at the patient.

      Second, ‘government’ is never a problem unless the structure of a given government is a problem. When people talk about government being a problem they are very frequently saying that the people in government, particularly or specifically, are the problem. This lack of clarity and conflation of people with structure are very real problems and have contributed much to the notion that ‘government is bad’. Government is only as bad as the structure of government and the people operating within that structure.

      In respect to the people, I don’t think it can legitimately be argued that there has ever been a time when the people involved in government have been more pleonexic or knowingly incompetent. We can argue that a structure that allows them to be there in the first place makes government bad and there would be something legitimate there. But before we do that we would have to argue about why these structures haven’t been allowed to change in the face of real problems and obviously incompetent and malicious people.

      Third, the rollout has indeed been a disaster on a technical level. As someone who plays online video games I’ve always marvelled at how companies can be so thoroughly unprepared for launch day and have server crashes. There’s little reason for this to happen with a computer game and even less for it to happen with something as important as the ACA website(s). But however problematic the website(s) is/are it is a false equivocation to say that just because the technical rollout is bad that the programme itself is bad. Actually, it’s dumb fuck stupid.

      The biggest problem currently facing the ACA is the contingent of state governors choosing to be problem.

      • Jae October 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

        I can agree with you the rollout was definitely a disaster. So much so even the Onion mocked it (which is saying something as they tend to be fairly liberal). Somehow I have a feeling this is the indicator of what can be expected in the future, but only time will tell. Just not looking forward to higher premiums…. They’ve already struck some of my friends, just waiting on mine….

    • gpicone October 19, 2013 at 1:24 am #

      The Independent Payment Advisory Board, cannot, by law, “ration” care or determine which treatments Medicare covers. In fact, the IPAB is limited in what it can do to curb the growth of Medicare spending.

      It can’t restrict benefits or eligibility, increase premiums or taxes, or “ration” health care, according to the Affordable Care Act.

      Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, page 490: The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.

      The new system grants IPAB the authority to make changes to the Medicare program with the Congress being given the power to overrule the agency’s decisions through super-majority vote.

      Howard Dean must not have understood what he was reading.

      Plus, Medicare is a government run healthcare program that has helped millions of Americans aged 65 and older for over 45 years. What would happen to senior citizens int his country if Medicare were abolished and private for profit health insurers were put in charge? If President Bush’s proposal to privatize SS had been approved all of those private health accounts would have been lost in the crash of 2008. He’s lucky he doesn’t also have that ignominious stain on his god awful record.

      • Jae October 21, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

        I wish he had privatized it. At least I might have had invested my money that I’ll *at best* be getting 60% of what I put in when I retire (oh yes, I received an official letter from the social security office. Don’t worry Jae, people are saying you won’t get any social security when you retire, but that’s just not true. You’ll still get up to 60% of what you’ve put in. I am not joking. That’s partly why government programs piss me off.) I might have used that money to pay off my student loan debts. But supposedly the whole thing will be broke just about when I retire. So all the money they take from my paycheck every month I might as well be flushing down the toilet, because the likelihood is I won’t see a dime of it. That’s the one thing I wish Bush had done. C’est la vie… *toilet flushes in background*

        Here’s the thing by law, because the Senate “by law” is supposed to pass a budget every year. They didn’t do it back when Democrats had a majority to do whatever they wanted (2009-2010), they certainly aren’t doing it now (and I know there are Republicans standing in the way now too). So my faith in “the law” as perpetrated by our dear leaders is somewhat lacking.

        Plus I tend to agree with Howard Dean’s assessment that they won’t “ration” care, they’ll just make certain procedures far too expensive. So they’re “available” just not “practical.” Then you still get healthcare, just not what you want.

        Health insurance should be like car insurance, for the major things, not for oil changes and if the heating goes, etc. But that would also take the health industry being an actual free market system itself where doctors and hospitals had to compete with each other. Where we know exactly what the costs would be before going in. Even so far as to have websites (not unlike car insurance does to a point) where you can compare services, for example find the cheapest x-ray service in town. It would be really cool if you had places that did “sutures only” services for minor, not life-threatening injuries that need stitches. Things like that.

        My friend is in the health industry and there’s a lot of talk of doctors “retiring” so they can do local practice that doesn’t accept any sort of insurance (even government ones). And maybe that’s the best in the long run, to get health care prices back to non-inflated values.

        Also Medicare is on track to go broke in 2016 (see Forbes).

        But it seems we’ll get to see exactly what the ACA results in, and the rollout has been discouraging to say the least…

  8. Dan Hennessy October 19, 2013 at 2:39 am #

    Sarah who ?

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