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Friday, October 30, 2009

End-of-Life Counseling Returns in House Legislation... As Do Cynical GOP Lies

More proof of the desperation of the right wing to stop health care reform: Dakota War College resurrects the "death panels" meme. Check out the sophistry as Powers propagates what has been widely recognized by every responsible journalist as a lie:
  1. Pat Powers speciously opens with the line "Government intrusion into end of life decisions," then fails to offer any proof of such intrusion. The only government action in the House health care bill referred to in the AP article referenced is a provision that "allows Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling to help beneficiaries deal with the complex and painful decisions families face when a loved one is approaching death."
  2. Powers cites the line from Senator Grassley about "pull[ing] the plug on grandma." Powers ignores the fact that Senator Grassley himself has completely repudiated that statement. As I said in August, Senator Grassley agrees that the only person making end-of-life decisions under the House legislation is you.
  3. Powers also declines to share with his readers the portion of the article that says the amped-up lies may have actually helped rally support for end-of-life counseling. The provision's sponsor, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, tells AP, "There is nothing more basic than giving someone the option of speaking with their doctor about how they want to be treated in the case of an emergency.... I think the outrageous and vindictive attacks may have backfired to help raise awareness about this problem, which is why it's been kept in the bill."
The "death panel" charge was a pants-on-fire lie the first time it burbled out, and it's a pants-on-fire lie now. The GOP knows it can't win on the issues, so it makes stuff up, hoping people are too busy to pay attention to the facts. Oops: problem is, the more the GOP lies, the more people recognize what a failed, solution-less party it has become.


  1. Steve Sibson10/30/2009 6:30 AM


    For your position to have a solid foundation, the question of maximum coverage has to be answered. Do we all have the right to a million dollars per day (or more) medical care? If not, who decides what the maximum must be? If there is no maximum, then how are we going to pay for future technological advances that will make the above scenario more and more common?

    My answer, if we allow the government to take over health care, will be "death panels". Just because you don't find it specified in the hundreds of pages of legisation does not mean it won't happen.

  2. That comment is so completely off the point. The provision Powers cites is about end of life counseling. The provision does nothing like what you dream up. It's like trying to claim Rep. Shantel Krebs's proposal to raise the gas tax plans to pave the roads with human bodies (actually, Stalin did that, and since Obama is a Marxist, that's his plan, right? I'm sure that logic is coming).

  3. Cory,

    The most serious issue here deals with subreption--whioh is the detachment of a portion of quoted material to contrive a meaning other than what the material actually conveys.

    War College is not the only conservative blog that habitually practices this gross form of dishonesty. Professor Ward Churchill lost his job at the U. of Colorado when it was demonstrated that he used exactly this tactic in some of his writing.

    I am not sure if the problem comes from people who can't read or won't read, but the false representations need to be called out constantly so that people with some regard for truth and accuracy know who the real culprits are.

  4. David,

    Don't make the mistake that Pat Powers is a representative of teh conservative movement. He is a member of the same Progressive movement that you and Cory are following. The Democrat/Republican feud is just adestraction from the end-game. And in this case the end-game will be death panels. Just because the "Progressive" step being proposed now doesn't include them now, we should ignore the issue? That trick is for fools.

    Before we take this step, my questions need discussion and answers. The fact that Cory wants to duck them only gives credability to those who voice concern over government "death panels".

  5. I'm not ducking the question, Sibby: I'm calling it absurd. It's not a voting issue: you have private insurers making that decision right now with no accountability. If that maximum amount decision has to be made, I'd rather have a say in it than let corporations pick the number. It's not even a reasonable policy question. We never put a cap on the amount we're going to spend on chasing bin Laden or prosecuting the wars. We do what it takes to win, to solve the problem. Your leap to death panels has no basis in reality. There are numerous nations with health care systems much more nationalized than anything coming out of Congress, and I don't see "death panels" in any of those countries. Your argument is politically foolish and empirically denied.

  6. Actually, I completely see Steve's point of view. If we go to a single payer only system when the hard decisions need to be made they will be made by a government official.

    In the current system, we have the illusion of unlimited choice. Of course this is just a fallacy, we only have as much choice as we have money in our pockets to pay. Except for the ridiculously wealthy, everyone that is insured is subjected to the whims of their insurance company which is not subject to public scrutiny and review.

    I guess Steve just feels more comfortable having a private citizen deciding the fates of others rather than a government official.

    Of course, we all know how that when the profit motive is involved, people become weak and bad decisions are made:


    In the end, I'm more comfortable putting my fate in the hands of a government official whose pay isn't subject to how much treatment they deny me.

  7. Steve Sibson10/31/2009 8:12 AM


    Thanks for seeing the importance of my point. And you are right, somebody is making that decision now (and so are you Cory), and it is all of us by chosing which insurance company we do business with. With a single payer system, we have no choice, especially if that government monopoly requires us to have insurance.

    The solution for those who say they can find no viable option in today's market is to start an insurance company of their own, and run it the way they think it should. And then you too will have to decide how high you need to set your maximum coverage in order to stay in business.

    The problem with the government plan is that the costs are separated from the benefits. And without the cost/benefit rule, it is impossible to make the right decision economically. We end up with a competition based on who covets the best (who has the best lobbyists), and that is a violation of Natural Law.

  8. The counseling service is available and active right now. If this doesn't go through, I wonder how many people are going to complain that this isn't a covered service.

    On another note. I don't choose my insurance. My employer does. Through the years we have had Travelers, some other one that pulled out of our state, Blue Cross Blue Shield about 3 times, Sioux Valley and now Avera. Yes, I have the choice to drop out and seek another, but that is expensive.

  9. Ms. Schave is right: the counseling is already there; the proposed legislation simply tells Medicare to pay for it.

    Ms. Schave is also right that choice is largely an illusion in the health insurance market. We have very little choice; the proposed legislation and a strong public option would increase everyone's choice in a much more reasonable, practical way than proposing we all start our own insurance companies at our kitchen tables. (Again, Sibby gets lost in ideology, while the rest of us look for practical solutions.)


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