Steven Rattner: ‘We Need Death Panels'; Will PolitiFact Reverse ‘Lie of the...

Steven Rattner: ‘We Need Death Panels'; Will PolitiFact Reverse ‘Lie of the Year’ Tag on Palin?

224 2126

From NewsBusters:

For those who want the short answer to the question in this post’s title, the answer is almost definitely “no.” But in a New York Times op-ed piece in mid-September, former Obama “car czar” Steven Rattner effectively said that the so-called “fact-check” site known as PolitiFact should make amends to former Alaska Governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

In December 2009, PolitiFact’s Angie Drobnic Holan outrageously characterized the following statement made by Palin in an August 2009 Facebook post as its “Lie of the Year” (bold is mine):

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.

What follows are several paragraphs from Rattner’s Times September 16 op-ed. Rattner understates the real-world power of ObamaCare’s Independent Advisory Board, which makes his citation of England’s version of death panels as something worthy of imitation a de facto admission (to the point where it doesn’t matter whether he himself admits it) that Palin is right about ObamaCare as it was proposed (at the time of her Facebook post) and ultimately enacted (bolds are mine):

WE need death panels.

Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently — rationing, by its proper name — the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.

But in the pantheon of toxic issues — the famous “third rails” of American politics — none stands taller than overtly acknowledging that elderly Americans are not entitled to every conceivable medical procedure or pharmaceutical.

Most notably, President Obama’s estimable Affordable Care Act regrettably includes severe restrictions on any reduction in Medicare services or increase in fees to beneficiaries. In 2009, Sarah Palin’s rant about death panels even forced elimination from the bill of a provision to offer end-of-life consultations.

Now, three years on, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Paul D. Ryan, has offered his latest ambitious plan for addressing the Medicare problem. But like Mr. Obama’s, it holds limited promise for containing the program’s escalating costs within sensible boundaries.

… Mr. Obama’s hopes for sustained cost containment are pinned on a to-be-determined mix of squeezing reimbursements, embracing a selection of the creative ideas that have spewed forth from health care policy wonks and scouring the globe for innovations.

To Mr. Obama’s credit, his plan has more teeth than Mr. Ryan’s; if his Independent Payment Advisory Board comes up with savings, Congress must accept either them or vote for an equivalent package. The problem is, the advisory board can’t propose reducing benefits (a k a rationing) or raising fees (another form of rationing), without which the spending target looms impossibly large.

… No one wants to lose an aging parent. And with price out of the equation, it’s natural for patients and their families to try every treatment, regardless of expense or efficacy. But that imposes an enormous societal cost that few other nations have been willing to bear. Many countries whose health care systems are regularly extolled — including Canada, Australia and New Zealand — have systems for rationing care.

Take Britain, which provides universal coverage with spending at proportionately almost half of American levels. Its National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence uses a complex quality-adjusted life year system to put an explicit value (up to about $48,000 per year) on a treatment’s ability to extend life.