Liberals embrace death panels

Derek Hunter Contributor
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When Congress was debating Obamacare, the left needed cover against those who pointed out that the bill, in many places, would lead to health care rationing. The media happily provided that cover.

Liberals needed cover because the law created the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which will be comprised of 15 “experts” who will basically decide which treatments seniors on Medicare will be allowed to get. Sarah Palin, among many others, took a lot of media heat for calling the IPAB “death panels.” The gang at Politifact, the self-proclaimed political truth-keepers, declared that the term “death panel” was the political lie of the year for 2009. But now liberals no longer need political cover and are rising up to not only defend the idea of death panels but to openly promote them. Politifact, call your office.

As usual, Paul Krugman is leading the liberals to the briar patch, calling death panels a necessity to help balance the budget. In a roundtable discussion on ABC’s “This Week,” Krugman said of what recently came out of the president’s deficit commission: “Some years down the pike, we’re going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes.” He also said, “Medicare is going to have to decide what it’s going to pay for. And at least for starters, it’s going to have to decide which medical procedures are not effective at all and should not be paid for at all. In other words, [the deficit commission] should have endorsed the panel that was part of the health care reform.”

Once Krugman pulled back the curtain, other liberals started talking about the “lie of the year.”

Writing for the Atlanta Constitution, Jay Booker admitted that death panels exist and defended their goals in a column entitled “Why ‘Death Panels’ are a necessary evil.” He said:

By law, the panel is prohibited from recommending health-care rationing; its role is simply to find the most cost-effective approaches to health care, with Congress given the power to override its decisions.

Inevitably, that proposal revived talk of “death panels.” It’s an emotionally powerful phrase, but only because it strips things down to uncomfortable truth: Death panels exist, they will exist in any conceivable system of health-care delivery, and we all know they are necessary but prefer to ignore it.

The only problem is, when it comes to medicine, what works for someone else may not work for you. But if the IPAB deems something unworthy of payment, it doesn’t matter that your doctor thinks is may work for you. You won’t get it, unless you’re wealthy and can pay for it yourself.

Leftist columnist Cynthia Tucker also joined the crusade, proclaiming: “Yes, we need death panels.” In Tucker’s world, the government would pick winners and losers in the health care arena. She writes, “If we keep spending our health care dollars disproportionately on the elderly, we will have little left to spend on children. That makes for an upside-down society that cannot thrive for long.” Kids win. Seniors lose.

These liberals are giving cover to the bureaucrats who are beginning to implement their vision of a new health care system in America. While this may seem a ways away, the bureaucrats at the FDA are already moving to deny the cancer drug Avastin to breast cancer patients. This is just the fist volley in the fight over rationing, and the IPAB hasn’t even started yet.

Throughout government, officials are plotting ways to “bend the cost curve.” A noble goal, but no market-oriented solutions are being considered, only options that withhold, deny and deprive patients of the treatments and drugs they need.

The longer these new bureaucracies are allowed to metastasize in the system, the harder they will be to remove. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court rejected Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s request for an expedited hearing of his thus far successful challenge to Obamacare, so those bureaucracies will, for now, continue. Should rationing entrench itself in our government, it will become almost impossible to remove.

Several senators have introduced the “Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act” to repeal the IPAB, but, with Democrats in charge of that body, the likelihood of that bill even receiving a hearing is slim.

While Politifact is wiping the egg off its face on “death panels,” liberals are embracing the concept and the Obama administration is moving as quickly as possible to implement its grand bureaucracy. President Reagan famously said “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” Once these boards are created, once these plans are finalized, repealing them will be nearly impossible. The roots of rationing — be they found at the FDA, the IPAB or any other place in government — are taking root. We’re running out of time to weed them out.

Derek Hunter is a Washington-based writer and consultant. He can be stalked on Twitter @derekahunter