Opinion

Whether or not grandma is run over by a reindeer, Obamacare death panels will finish her off

If grandma narrowly escaped being run over by a reindeer this Christmas, she may still suffer a worse New Years Day fate.

Sarah Palin has once again been proven correct — death panels are back, surprisingly exposed the day after Christmas in the Sunday pages of the New York Times:

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.

With the news yesterday that Obama is inserting death panels into Obamacare through regulation, it should be patently obvious why the Clintonian phrase triangulation (i.e. “compromise”) has been banned in the White House.

Some basics on the new end-of-life regulation and the politics involved:

–Think of end-of-life counseling from the Obama White House as carrots dangled in front of doctors, financial “incentives” for doctors to discuss “options” for end-of-life care. As stated in the New York Times, that may “include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment,” or a continuance of Obama’s “take this pill and go home” solution to medical costs.

— Under this new regulatory regime, doctors could ostensibly be the pawns of cost-curve-bending bureaucrats. To put this into perspective, ponder a Greece-like meltdown of our financial system/government in the future and the way that these rules would be implemented in such a scenario. Better yet, think of what could happen if this power fell into the wrong hands. How would the elderly be “counseled” during a time of national crisis? How do we know that financial motives won’t affect the advice that doctors give their patients in end-of-life situations?

— Team Obama (has again) done a complete 180-degree turn on the American people, going behind the back of both the American public and the Democrat-controlled Congress that took the death panel language out of the legislation due to public outcry.

— Obama has been able to insert the death panel regulation due to the ambiguous “the Secretary shall determine” language that appears five times in the final 2,000-page Senate version of Obamacare. That language gives the “Secretary” (in this case, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius) the ability to implement (at her discretion) such a rule. The end-of-life regulation was finalized in November, brought to light the day after Christmas, and takes effect January 1, 2011. How’s that for transparency, hope and change?

— The regulation is yet more proof that Obamacare is the template for socialized, government-run health care. As Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection states, “Obamacare simply is the infrastructure. The details and the demons will be worked out in regulations.” The end-of-life regulation is such a detail.