To the People

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Get A Second Opinion ...

There's been a fair amount of talk in recent weeks about so-called "death panels" being part of the health care reform bill in Congress, especially since Sarah Palin mentioned it. Democrats have pushed back hard against this and virtually all mainstream news outlets have followed along. Only crackpots and cynical right-wing talk show host are pushing this, so the conventional wisdom goes.

It is true there is nothing specifically like that in any of the health care bills floating around Congress. So where does this notion come from? Well, from comments like this from Barack Obama:
In terms of these expert health panels -- well, this goes to the point about "death panels" -- that's what folks are calling them. The idea is actually pretty straightforward, which is if we've got a panel of experts, health experts, doctors, who can provide guidelines to doctors and patients about what procedures work best in what situations, and find ways to reduce, for example, the number of tests that people take -- these aren't going to be forced on people, but they will help guide how the delivery system works so that you are getting higher-quality care.
Why should anybody who is concerned about rationing of care find such assurances that these panels will be merely advisory even remotely satisfying? One of the supposed purposes of this whole initiative is to reduce costs after all. Why shouldn't people who are on Medicare or some other government program fear that these panels will become more than advisory at some point? Especially when this effort is being lead by a man who has openly questioned whether his own grandmother's late in life care was worth the trouble?

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