On Friday, Governor Sarah Palin made a statement on regarding the health care debate stressing that we uphold the dignity and sanctity of human life when looking at health care reform. In particular she expressed concern over the potential of health care rationing.
The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.
President Barack Obama took umbrage to that statement and said this in reply yesterday during his town hall meeting in New Hampshire (transcribed from video at provided link).
Let me just be specific about some things that I’ve been hearing lately that we just need to dispose of here. The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we’ve decided that we don’t, it’s too expensive to let her live anymore….It turns out that I guess this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, etc. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready on their own terms. It wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything.
Governor Palin responds to his attempt at a rebuttal (that was given after a child of an Obama supporter asked a question, but that wasn’t staged at all).
The provision that President Obama refers to is Section 1233 of HR 3200, entitled “Advance Care Planning Consultation.”  With all due respect, it’s misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients. The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context.
Section 1233 authorizes advanced care planning consultations for senior citizens on Medicare every five years, and more often “if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual … or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility… or a hospice program.  During those consultations, practitioners must explain “the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice,” and the government benefits available to pay for such services. 
Now put this in context. These consultations are authorized whenever a Medicare recipient’s health changes significantly or when they enter a nursing home, and they are part of a bill whose stated purpose is “to reduce the growth in health care spending.”  Is it any wonder that senior citizens might view such consultations as attempts to convince them to help reduce health care costs by accepting minimal end-of-life care? As Charles Lane notes in the Washington Post, Section 1233 “addresses compassionate goals in disconcerting proximity to fiscal ones…. If it’s all about alleviating suffering, emotional or physical, what’s it doing in a measure to “bend the curve” on health-care costs?” (read the rest)
Somebody has read this bill, and I sincerely doubt it was President Obama. Now we know what she was doing with her quiet time.
Update: Obama really ought to read section 1233 of HR 3200. Pundette, if he did he’d realize he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
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