Death Panel? Are you crazy?
The most disturbing thing that happened at the Portsmouth townhall meeting had nothing to do with the audience or whether the little girl was a plant or not. The most disturbing moment came as President Obama began to address Palin’s “death panel” comment when laughter waft up from the crowd. Neither the charge of or the possibility of euthanasia is a laughing matter. The laughter demonstrated the lack of seriousness our concerns are getting from the ignorant plebeians on the left.
Palin’s “death panel” comment side-tracked the debate by allowing the left to semi-truthfully counter-attack and portray HR3200 opponents as the lunatic-fringe. In fact, HR3200 does not establish “death panels” or, to bring it down a notch, medical review panels. Not out-right anyway. If it did the bill would be easy to defeat. Rather HR3200 sets up rules and conditions that would allow and in fact necessitate bureaucratic control over who has benefits. So in effect, a panel, one that holds the power of life and death, hence Palin’s comment.
Government bureaucracies are neither compassionate or caring
When a government bureaucrat denies coverage, recourse is always more complicated, time consuming, and less flexible. Recall the Post Office analogy the President made? Before moving on, I’ll relate a personal bureaucratic experience. Many years ago, before we were married, my wife received a traffic ticket from the Florida Highway Patrol. She mailed her payment just before moving to a new apartment. Some mistake occurred in Tallahassee. They cashed her check but failed to credit her as paid. She was mailed a notice, but it was returned unopened since she had moved. My wife had no indication anything was wrong as she had the processed check and had properly updated her license. Five years later my wife was pulled over for another traffic violation. She was promptly arrested and put in jail. The reason? Her license had been revoked five years earlier for failure to pay. After producing proof of payment, her record was expunged – without apology. When she asked why the state had not contacted her regarding the suspension, the response was classic government, “It is not our responsibility to inform you of anything. It is your responsibility to know.” Get the point here?
What precedence is there to trust the government?
When I began this essay I was ready to expound on Blumenthal and Emanuel. I was prepared to remind people that it was President Obama who first made me think about euthanasia when he discussed the high cost of end of life care in the same paragraph in which he discussed cutting health care costs. (It was hard to miss the connection.) I came into this prepared to quote the President when he said, “So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that’s also a huge driver of cost, right? I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.” If he wasn’t suggesting euthanasia what exactly was he suggesting? I mean, apparently, what he said in the past is meaningless, if today he says, “I am not in favor of that.”
BUT, I’m dropping all that now. After all, the President is now open to dropping the “public option” and if I don’t have to accept a government intrusion into my health care decisions then I have little to fear. Right? We can take the President at his word. Right? I mean if he says something he’ll stick to it, right? Certainly you are not sitting there actually thinking that our President would say anything to get what he wants? Certainly he would not keep saying one thing while pursuing policies that contradict what he says. I hope this is NOT simply a decoy.
The precedence has been set
States like Massachusetts and Oregon have a state-run health care programs. Should we not examine how these plans are practiced when considering if we want to entrust health care to the federal government? One democratic strategist on Sunday said there can be no comparison between state plans and a national plan. Why? Is it because close examination might expose how bad these plans are? I think so.
Oregon is a great place to look when considering the issue of reduced access to care and euthanasia. Oregon has adopted state guidelines that refuse life-prolonging treatment to patients who fall below a predetermined survival threshold. It can be argued that Oregon has NO “death panel” but it cannot be argued that the state sponsors and encourages euthanasia. In Oregon the state WILL pay for doctor-assisted suicide but won’t pay for stage 4 cancer treatment. I’m certain Oregon state officials would have denied the charge of “death panels” as fervently as President Obama before passage of their law. Now it’s too late for patients like Randy Stroup of Dexter, Oregon. Stoup was one of hundreds if not thousands that have been encouraged to end their lives rather than become a burden on Oregon’s taxpayers. Oregon’s approach to health care is reminiscent of another public option in the 20th century that sought to ease the public burden.
The phrase “death panel” may not be in HR3200 but that doesn’t mean euthanasia wouldn’t be part of the cost-containment and end-of-life planning. We can argue semantics but what really matters is what is written in the bill that becomes law. Unfortunately, John Conyers was right when he said you need two days and two lawyers to figure out what it means.