Tag Archives: health care reform

Media boost

Here we go again.

Death panels. As if it weren’t odious enough the first time around, now we have to go through it again. Obama wants death panels.

My colleagues love this one. It’s just so sexy. Brings up such strong emotion. Nobody wants the government telling grandma she has to die.

Except, of course, that isn’t gonna happen.

The new health care law — the one the Republicans and Blue Dogs gutted to the point that it will be largely ineffective and easy to declare failed when it comes time to blame Obama for everything again — was supposed to have reimbursed doctors for having end-of-life counseling with patients, should they actually have the talks because it was completely voluntary. That means they talk about things like living wills and powers of attorney, hospice care — all those things that we really oughta talk about before it’s too late and that crazy nephew who believes the soul can’t pass on to the next world until the body has had all its blood drained and replaced by dishwashing detergent is making all the decisions for us.

But it got twisted into “death panels” by Sarah Palin, et al, who declared that the administration intended to have faceless bureaucrats decide who lives and who dies and when and how, which is exactly what insurance companies do now.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the Republicans managed to convince a bunch of clearly unknowledgeable Americans that the health care bill was going to do precisely what is already being done by insurance companies instead of what it would actually do, which is to help the elderly make sure that their wishes for the end of their lives are followed. Totally amazing.

Some new regulations involving Medicare recipients, however, have gotten the whole thing rolling again.

I take that back. My clearly bored colleagues are doing their dead-level best to gin up that can of worms again.

See, nobody noticed when the new regulations went up a ┬ámonth ago. The new regs said that the annual wellness reviews Medicare recipients get could include end-of-life counseling. It’s still voluntary.

Then the New York Times, just a week ago, ran a story about it, pretending it was all brand new and unheard of and that the administration was trying an end-around to get its “death panels” in place by regulation instead of law.

Except there already was a regulation on the books allowing end-of-life counseling as part of the “Welcome to Medicare” new Medicare patients get. That regulation was enacted in 2008. Under GW Bush.

But not to worry. Once the New York Times does something, all the cablers have to do it to death, no pun intended. And so they have, bringing on the traditional one guest in favor and one opposed to talk about what they invariably labeled “death panels” — often without the quotes. DEATH PANELS RESURRECTED, blared CNN, while Faux News trumpeted the RETURN OF DEATH PANELS and ‘DEATH PANEL’ DECEPTION (that last one, at least, with quotes).

Never mind that PolitiFact named Palin’s “death panels” the “Lie of the Year” for 2009.

It remains to be seen just how rabid the TeaPublicans will be over it this time around. They should be foaming at the mouth, just like they were in 2009. But since their masters apparently missed it, they’re a little behind. But I’ve no doubt that my beloved colleagues will push the issue until they get the anger and outrage at absolutely nothing they so desperately want.

See, end-of-life counseling is something you can do just about anytime. Have you done a will? Then you’ve had some form of end-of-life counseling. It’s just preparation. And here I thought that was a good idea, being prepared.

But then, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at what my friends in the media do with this kind of thing. They fucked it all up in 2009. Why would they get it right now?

Besides, they’re too busy pushing the “everybody hates the individual mandate” meme right now. And while they’re doing it, they’re missing a few very important pieces of information about why that is important.

  • The purpose of the mandate is to prevent people from waiting until they are diagnosed with cancer or are hit by a bus before they buy insurance since the insurance companies are now barred from refusing to insure folks because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Of course, it doesn’t really do that because those who don’t buy the insurance are slapped with an almost insignificant fine and can still buy insurance the day that bus mows them down, thanks, again, thanks to the Republicans and Blue Dogs who are most adept at watering down things that could do some good if only they were left alone.
  • The mandate significantly cuts the number of uninsured people.
  • If the insurance would cost more than 8 percent of someone’s income, they’re exempt.

And all of this would make much more sense if Republicans and Blue Dogs hadn’t nixed the public option, which, despite Republican lies to the contrary, is not government funded health care or a government takeover of health care. It’s paid for just the same way insurance is paid for now — by the insureds, who would pay a lower amount because the government isn’t in business to rack up billions for executives or stockholders, which, of course, is why the public option wasn’t allowed to live.

Ah, but why have a reasonable, truthful discussion about anything when it’s so much more fun to use fear-mongering hyperbole and outright lies? It’s a wonder I can even hold a steady job in this industry.