When we last heard from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin she was — not without some justification — beseeching some members of the media to “quit making things up.”
But in a post on her Facebook Page today, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee seemed to take some liberties of her own.
In a column titled “Statement on the Current Health Care Debate,” Palin wrote that as “Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!”
She questions Democratic promises that the health care reform plans will reduce the cost of health care, invoking economist Thomas Sowell, saying the only way to cut costs is to refuse treatment.
“And who will suffer the most when they ration care?” Palin asks. “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.”
One can question whether there will by necessity be any rationing decisions that will need to come as a part of health care reform (and, in fact, we have) but pictures of government bureaucrats forcing euthanasia upon seniors — and, now, children with Down syndrome — because they’re not productive members of society are not part of any reasonable debate on the facts of the matter. (And frankly, I agreed with Palin previously, when she was asking members of the media to keep her children out of any public debate.)
Asked specifically what the former governor was referring to when painting a picture of an Obama “death panel” giving her parents or son Trig a thumbs up or down based on their productivity, Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton responded in an email: “From HR3200 p. 425 see ‘Advance Care Planning Consultation’.”
That’s a curious reading of page 425 of the House Democrats’ bill, which refers to “advance care planning consultation,” defined as a senior and a medical practitioner discussing “advance care planning, if…the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years.”
This includes an “explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to,” an “explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses,” and an “explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.”
It directs the medical provider to give the patients “a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning,” and an explanation “of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title,” as well as “an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders.”
Factcheck.org disputes this interpretation, saying “accepted definition of end-of-life planning means thinking ahead about the care you would like to receive at the end of your life — which may include the choice to reject extraordinary measures of life support, or the choice to embrace them….the bill would not make these sessions mandatory.”
Palin refers in her statement to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who in a speech on the floor of the House, Palin said, described the “Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff. … I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.”
Bachmann’s speech was based on an op-ed article in the New York Post, titled “Deadly Doctors,” by the former lieutenant governor of New York, Betsy McCaughey, that took a number of leaps of fact when discussing the academic writings of Ezekiel J. Emanuel, health-policy adviser at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.
We vetted the factuality of McCaughey’s op-ed HERE.
The Heritage Foundation’s Thomas Sowell wrote a column, “Utopia Versus Freedom,” in which he warned readers to “not be surprised when life-and-death decisions about you or your family are taken out of your hands — and out of the hands of your doctor — and transferred to bureaucrats in Washington.”
In another column, “Care Versus Control,” he went further, asking, “Are decisions made by doctors who have treated the same patient for years to be over-ruled by bureaucrats sitting in front of computer screens in Washington, following guidelines drawn up with the idea of ‘bringing down the cost of medical care’? The idea is even more absurd than the idea that you can add millions of people to a government medical care plan without increasing the costs. It is also more dangerous.”
Having looked at other countries’ health care plans for his book, “Applied Economics,” Sowell wrote that “the actual consequences of government-controlled medical care is not a pretty picture, however inspiring the rhetoric that accompanies it. … Many people do not understand that it is not just a question of whether government bureaucrats will agree to pay for particular medical treatments. The same government-control mindset that decides what should and should not be paid for can also decide that the medical technology or pharmaceutical drugs that they control should not be for sale to those who are willing to pay their own money.”
Sowell’s are more reasonable arguments, though they don’t exactly emphasize that health care insurance company bureaucrats already are making such decisions. In any case, nowhere does he raise the specter of an Obama “death panel.”
The White House had no comment.