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August 17, 2009


Denying coverage, for whatever reason, en masse (comparative effectiveness) or on an individual basis, to me constitutes a bureaucrat deciding who will live, and who will die. I think that is a 'death panel' but really its all semantics anyway.

Mark is exactly right. Decisions about who shall receive treatment and who shall not are nothing new. We have transplant boards that decide, either by establishing general categories or on an individual basis, who shall receive a transplant. In effect, they operate as death panels. We have triage doctors and nurses who decide which patients, given the scarce medical resources available, can be saved and which cannot. Those are life and death decisions.

Note that these situations all involve patients who desire treatment (or in the case of unconscious patients, are deemed to desire treatment) but are denied it because of scarce resources.

In the world of the future, will we see similar decisions on life and death matters (who shall be covered for transplants or chemotherapy or coronary artery bypass surgery, etc.) and quality of life matters (e.g., who shall be covered for joint replacements) made by a government insurer that, because of its size and importance in the market, effectively sets the standard for reimbursement by private insurers as well?

To some extent we may reduce the demand for these treatments by end of life counseling, but considerable demand will remain regardless.

Instead of evading the issue or pretending it's all a myth, we need a democratic conversation on the subject. How ironic that it took the lightweight former governor of Alaska to start that conversation while the President, the MSM and certain health policy scholars and political scientist/bloggers try their damnedest to shut it down.

I agree with Mark - health care should not be restricted and should be available for everyone equally.

If one is to decide on veracity based on number of media reports, I think one should count both sides.

Brendan approvingly cites Media Matters' assertion that, "The media have debunked the death panels -- more than 40 times over." Apparently they are persuaded by the large number of outlets that have reported that the death panel claims are unambiguously false.

OTOH Brendan also quotes Media Matters that, "Two more leading news outlets...have reverted to treating the claim as a matter of legitimate factual dispute." This quote implies that a substantial number of media outlets have treated this claim as a matter of legitimate factual dispute. The total number isn't given, but it may well be more than 40. Yet, these reports don't persuade
Brendan and Media Matters that there is a legitimate factual dispute. For Brendan, these reports are instances of backsliding, which is defined as bad habits, sinful behavior, or undesirable activities.

This is a nice example of the tendency to seek out "hypothesis-confirming evidence"


What could possibly be the explanation for the American people's positive genius for falling for the most blatant and obvious propaganda? I have a possible theory if you're interested in hearing it....

We're idiots.

That could be the only explanation. What other reason could there possibly be? Any takers?

When a contemptible half-wit like Sarah Palin "twits" (an appropriate word) about "death panels" and the next moment it is a serious part on the national conversation - there is really something seriously wrong.

Here is (Excuse me, I meant "was") a golden opportunity for real reform and the idiotic Americans are screaming about socialism. Is it any wonder that we are the laughingstock of the industrialized world?


Tom Degan

Tom, that theory is so crazy, it just might be right.
For that matter, the fact that anyone, anywhere, at any time has any interest in anything that comes out of Sarah Palin's mouth is pretty strong evidence in support.

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