Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another remark from the Orwellian overseers

There has been some recent discussion in the comments over whether the Democrats of the Republican are the better propagandists. Spot said that the Democrats were just “sloganeering pikers” compared to the Republican “Orwellian overseers.” Just after writing that, he saw this article in Salon:

The future of healthcare in America, according to Sarah Palin, might look something like this: A sick 17-year-old girl needs a liver transplant. Doctors find an available organ, and they're ready to operate, but the bureaucracy -- or as Palin would put it, the "death panel" -- steps in and says it won't pay for the surgery. Despite protests from the girl's family and her doctors, the heartless hacks hold their ground for a critical 10 days. Eventually, under massive public pressure, they relent -- but the patient dies before the operation can proceed.

It certainly sounds scary enough to make you want to go show up at a town hall meeting and yell about how misguided President Obama's healthcare reform plans are. Except that's not the future of healthcare -- it's the present. Long before anyone started talking about government "death panels" or warning that Obama would have the government ration care, 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, a leukemia patient from Glendale, Calif., died in December 2007, after her parents battled their insurance company, Cigna, over the surgery. Cigna initially refused to pay for it because the company's analysis showed Sarkisyan was already too sick from her leukemia; the liver transplant wouldn't have saved her life.

The article continues:

Opponents of reform often seem to skip right past any problems with the current system -- but it's rife with them. A study by the American Medical Association found the biggest insurance companies in the country denied between 2 and 5 percent of claims put in by doctors last year (though the AMA noted that not all the denials were improper). There is no national database of insurance claim denials, though, because private insurance companies aren't required to disclose such stats. Meanwhile, a House Energy and Commerce Committee report in June found that just three insurance companies kicked at least 20,000 people off their rolls between 2003 and 2007 for such reasons as typos on their application paperwork, a preexisting condition or a family member's medical history. People who buy insurance under individual policies, about 6 percent of adults, may be especially vulnerable, but the 63 percent of adults covered by employer-provided insurance aren't immune to difficulty.

Newton Gingrich tell us not to trust the government, but Spot says the government is a better bet than health insurance companies who profit by denying claims. Spot’s got a whole gaggle of commenters who are so poisoned by the Palins and the Gingrichs that they cannot think rationally.

Rationing goes on now, boys and girls:

That kind of utilitarian rationing, of course, is exactly what Palin and other opponents of the healthcare reform proposals pending before Congress say they want to protect the country from. "Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote, in the same message posted on Facebook where she raised the "death panel" specter. "Health care by definition involves life and death decisions."

Coverage of Palin's remarks, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's defense of them, over the weekend did point out that the idea that the reform plans would encourage government-sponsored euthanasia is one of a handful of deliberate falsehoods being peddled by opponents of the legislation. But the idea that only if reform passes would the government start setting up rationing and interfering with care goes beyond just the bogus euthanasia claim.

Comments like Palin and Gingrich’s get passed along sub silentio by people like Donald E. Wildmon in widespread emails campaigns that are never subject to scrutiny or corrected when demonstrated to be false.

Spot’s friend the Disco Stoo had a good post about health care that Spot has been meaning to link to, but hasn’t gotten around to it before now. Here it is. The Stoo also addresses the rationing argument:

And then there's the rationing argument. Leave aside the fact that health insurance companies do a perfectly fine job of rationing health care, care is also being rationed by price, as in the poor can't afford good health care. I'd also argue that giving everyone access doesn't mean that everyone will pound down the doors (except perhaps at the beginning, when people can finally afford to see a doctor for the first time. That will pass.). I've been sick for the last week. I didn't go to a doctor. Why do you think everyone else will?

The Stoo also makes this comment, from a young Stoo’s perspective:

And please get off of the "insuring lazy people" bullshit. When I was working full time as a security guard, I couldn't go to a doctor. The insurance I was offered was little more than catastrophic coverage. That was fine for me, a young, healthy single guy with no kids. At the pay we were getting, the cost for decent health coverage was astronomical. And that was for full time work.

Here’s a good summary of the leading House plan, with a link to the House website.

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