On a Facebook post, former Gov. Sarah Palin puts the lie to The New York Times' assertion that "the rumor that government-sponsored 'death panels' to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed to arise from nowhere" (emphasis added by The Stiletto).
Had Times reporters Jim Rutenberg and Jackie Calmes read her commentary -- which was posted the day before their article was published -- they would have known that the death panels are real, and where to read up on the details. Palin makes a solid case that health care "reform," as originally envisioned by Democrats, would lead to rationed care and put a price tag on the value of people's lives based on their economic productivity.
Palin cites and explains the ramifications of Section 1233 ("Advance Care Planning Consultation," pages 424 to 434) of the House's proposed bill, "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,'' and quotes from "Principles For Allocation Of Scarce Medical Interventions" (The Lancet, January 31, 2009), a paper co-authored by one of President Obama's health care policy advisors, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel -- whose brother, Rahm, is the president's chief of staff.
Dr. Emanuel, a bioethicist, believes that doctors and hospitals should apply a rationing scheme he calls "complete life" for such medical services as ICU beds, heart transplants and vaccines during a flu pandemic. Under this scheme, adolescents and young adults would get priority over infants and the elderly, because "they have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants -- have not yet received these investments."
Though the paper's authors admit that their scheme is ageist, they do not even bother to discuss exceptions to their hierarchical valuation of human life. For instance, is the average 14-year old more "valuable" to society than, say, Pablo Picasso in his later years? Objectively, no -- but (s)he is valuable to a circle of family and friends, and that should be enough. Ditto Grandma, even if she isn't in Picasso's league as a world renowned artist. And so is -- too bad it doesn't go without saying -- Trig Palin. But try convincing Dr. Emanuel's fellow bioethicist, Peter Singer, who believes that the lives of animals deserve more protection than the lives of people (see second item in this link).
Believe it or not, the rationing scheme Dr. Emanuel advocates in The Lancet is a softening of his views on which lives are worth saving. Though Palin was mocked -- surprise! -- for her "death panel" analysis, it's now Dr. Emanuel who is backpedaling from an article he co-authored 13 years ago, The Washington Times reports:
"When I began working in the health policy area about 20 years ago ... I thought we would definitely have to ration care, that there was a need to make a decision and deny people care," said Dr. Emanuel ... during a phone interview. ...
He wrote [in a short article published in a bioethics journal in 1996] that "services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed."
"An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia," he wrote in the paper published by The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan, non-profit bioethics research institute. ...
The charges of rationing, or concerns about his language in journal articles, Dr. Emanuel said, is somewhat understandable given that he was "writing really for political philosophers, and for the average person it's not what they're used to reading, even if they've had a good liberal education."
Palin can also put another notch on her belt when it comes to influencing health care "reform" -- the Senate will drop language "encouraging" doctors to initiate conversations with patients about hospice and palliative end-of-life care from its bill, The Boston Globe reports:
Senator Chuck Grassley, the Senate Finance Committee's top Republican and one of six committee members trying to hash out a bipartisan bill, said yesterday that the provision could be misinterpreted and that it will not be contained in the committee's proposed legislation. ...
Yesterday, Grassley criticized the House bill, saying there was a difference between a "simple education campaign, as some advocates want,'' and paying "physicians to advise patients about end-of-life care'' and rating doctors "based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care.''
Public support for Obamacare and Congressional Dems has fallen another five points from just two weeks ago, with just 42 percent of U.S. voters now in favor, according to a nationwide Rasmussen telephone survey. Oh, and voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats now on health care (44 percent to 41 percent).
Palin was hardly the only one to look at the House bill and realize its implications. In a commentary posted on The Daily Beast, "thinker" Lee Siegel -- who believes "the absence of universal health care is America's burning shame" -- calls rationing end-of-life care "morally revolting":
Determining which treatments are "cost effective" at the end of a person's life and which are not is one of Obama's priorities. It's one of the principal ways he counts on saving money and making universal health care affordable.
This is the Big Brother nightmare of oppressive government that the shrewd propagandists on the right are always blathering on about. Except that this time, they could not be more right. ...
[T]he argument that fruitless tests and "senseless" procedures are bankrupting the health care system, that is an insult to the intelligence. No one knows which tests and procedures will be effective beforehand. No amount of "study" and research is going to address the particular case and the particular condition, let alone the particular, desperate, irrational will to live -- which, in animal terms, is pragmatic and rational.
The Stiletto seems to recall pundits across the political spectrum writing Palin off as irrelevant after she voluntarily stepped down from public office in July. Guess they were -- what is the word? -- wrong.