The Washington Post noted Thursday that the Obama administration has reopened the debate on so-called “death panels” by issuing a new rule under Obamacare that would pay doctors under Medicare for offering “end of life” counseling. The matter had come up when the health care reform law was being first debated. Many, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, suggested that such a program would incentivize doctors into pushing elderly patients to refuse lifesaving procedures because of limited health care resources, coining the phrase “death panel.” Palin has taken to her Facebook page to not only attack the newly revised policy but to defend herself against the inevitable media attacks.
On the surface, the new policy seems benign. As people reach the end of life, they certainly could use information on how to handle the dying process, However, as the government is paying for a lot of healthcare, the policy could very well morph into encouraging people to die in order to spare their relatives and save the taxpayer the expense of keeping them alive.
“Be clear, media. Think. Do your homework. Remember when coining ‘death panel’ I focused on the dangers of rationing healthcare services – as it’s the inevitable result of any government takeover of healthcare. I was right about this then, and I’m still right about it today. Do your dang homework – you’ve even admitted I was right, so don’t claim I’m ‘universally discredited’ on it. Got it? In fact, even Democrats now agree about ‘death panel’ dangers they’ve found in Obamacare – specifically in the role that unelected, faceless bureaucrats on the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will play in determining who will get government’s limited supply of care, whose care will be covered, and they’ll dangerously decide who will be denied.”
Lest one imagine that the Mama Grizzly is hyperventilating, one should consider the case of the Liverpool Care Pathway, a similar policy initiated a few years ago by Britain’s National Health Service. The policy started innocently enough as it was to provide palliative care for patients who were terminally ill. It quickly morphed into a program that featured elderly patients being euthanized, which is to say murdered, resulting in a huge scandal across the Pond. The patients and their relatives were not consulted. Some patients who were put down were not, strictly speaking, terminally ill. The policy was eventually abolished.
The official conclusion as to why the Liverpool Care Pathway became a real life death panel was that doctors were poorly trained, and nurses lacked compassion. This was certainly true, but it was also true that the NHS, a government single payer system that many liberals, such as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, hold out as the ideal model, had financial incentives to hurry dying patients along.
Palin fears that it could happen here under Obamacare.
“The Hippocratic Oath taken by our care providers is one of the oldest, most sacred binding oaths, and through any iterations it has never condoned the taking of innocent life through lack of care, and certainly not via direct action. If you’ve recently received care then you know the many intrusive, personal questions that government mandates a provider probe. Be aware that most of these questions are for the benefit of a far-away, bankrupt government, they’re not for the benefit of the patient. It is happening in our assisted living facilities, our nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and schools, despite many providers who disagree with the mandate but are forced or coerced to provide answers to the death panel of the fed.”