Postlet #4: Longer Lives are Less Than Worthless

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Damn, do I ever get tired of double-talk on health care.  First, Section 1233 was, if not the gateway to Death Panels, then it was a cold, worrisome treatment of mortality vs. cost.  Now, when it comes to the idea of extending life through preventive medicine, that’s a bad idea because longer lives cost money:

As it turns out, there may be very little savings at all from preventive care:

Using data from long-standing clinical trials, researchers projected the cost of caring for people with Type 2 diabetes as they progress from diagnosis to various complications and death. Enrolling federally-insured patients in a simple but aggressive program to control the disease would cost the government $1,024 per person per year — money that largely would be recovered after 25 years through lower spending on dialysis, kidney transplants, amputations and other forms of treatment, the study found.

However, except for the youngest diabetics, the additional services

This is all pushback against a study that says CBO isn’t factoring in savings from preventive care.  But even if you accept the idea that longer lives mean more health care, does that mean that those longer lives will necessarily be unproductive?  And even if you accept that, isn’t rejecting preventive care something akin to a Death Panel?  In other words, won’t these people just say any fucking thing at this point?  And won’t the media, except for Jake Tapper and me, just “he said/she said” the whole deal?

Americans Get President’s Message, Democrats Not So Much

briefing1At today’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cited an NBC poll that shows that shows that only 45% of Americans currently believe in “Death Panels.” He cited this as evidence that the President has been effective in debunking myths about health care reform.

I would argue that 45% is an awfully large number to believe in a health care Sasquatch, but even granting that, the President’s effectiveness at combating myths is cold comfort if the Democrats in congress don’t get the message.  I asked Gibbs what happens to the next health care provision to become the subject of an urban legend:

TC:  On health care, you were talking about Chuck’s poll earlier, that — I mean, the good news that most Americans no longer believe in death panels. But the fact remains that Section 1233 was taken out of the House bill. So what can you do to reassure voters that the same fate won’t befall other provisions of the bill if some rumor like the death panels gets started about the public option?

MR. GIBBS: I don’t — I’m not following the thesis of your — the section that’s been pulled out.

TC:Section 1233 about the end-of-life care.

MR. GIBBS: It’s been?

TC: There was a report earlier this week that it’s been dropped.

MR. GIBBS: Well —

TC: Is that not true?

MR. GIBBS: This is in a Senate Finance Committee bill that nobody has seen? Look, what I’m saying is, I think the President is going out there and explaining what those provisions are and what they’re not — regardless of whether they’re in what section of what bill at what time, I think it’s something that the President has been focused on doing and correcting the record. I think it has more to do with a sustained dialogue in dealing with the misrepresentations as it has whether or not a provision may or may not have been dropped.

While I’m happy to credit the President with quelling some of the “death panel” nonsense, I would be more comforted if he could lend some of his, shall we say, fortitude to his panicky congressional standard-bearers.

Hey, Folks, it’s the House Healthcare Bill By Request! Section 312 Subsections B and C

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(in radio-guy voice) Welcome to Tommy eh-eh-eh-X’s House Healthcare Morning Zoo! (funny sound effect)  This next request comes from the poster with the most-er, the tweep who will make you weep, Kimberly HANEYYYYY! (cue sexy sax music)

Kimberly writes in “Dear Tommy EH-EH-EH-X!!! (explosion sound effect), please decipher Pg 145 Line 15-17 – in your words, please.”

Happy to do it, Kimmie, so buckle the (BLEEEP) up, baby, ‘cus here..it..COMES! Continue reading

Now We Finally Know What Sarah Palin Reads

Death_PanelSarah Palin has been getting justly picked apart by the sane portion of the media all week for her “Death Panel” crazy talk, which she posted on her Facebook page last Friday.  Curiously, she has not offered much in the way of elaboration or defense of the outrageous and dishonest claim.  That is, until now.

Palin has posted a response to President Obama’s Tuesday remarks on Palin’s lie.  Why the day-and-a-half delay in responding to Obama, and the 5 day response time to the sane people of the world?  I’m guessing it took her that long to cobble together the strained defenses that others have mounted for her, both those she cited (Charles Lane and Eugene Robinson), and those she didn’t (Camille Paglia) but obviously read.  All of them suffer from an inability to distinguish between a description of a medically recommended service, as it would appear in any private insurance company’s Specific Plan Document, and a call for euthanasia.

She twists mightily to spin their overreaching, highly disclaimed agreement with her into affirmation of her lie, but falls short right at the end.  The linchpin to her death panel lie is an article that was co-written by Zeke Emanuel and 2 others.  Here’s how Palin puts it:

My original comments concerned statements made by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy advisor to President Obama and the brother of the President’s chief of staff. Dr. Emanuel has written that some medical services should not be guaranteed to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens….An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” [10] Dr. Emanuel has also advocated basing medical decisions on a system which “produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.” [11]

Even granting the idiotic premise that two cherry-picked sentences from the collected writings of Zeke Emanuel have some relevance to the health care reform currently being debated, Palin’s assertions are false.  Both articles are ethical treatises about the allocation of truly scarce resources like donor organs, decisions which are made by “death panels” (the pros call ’em “Transplant Committees”) every day.  Nothing in either article has anything to do with end of life counseling or services, nor the establishment of any kind of panel.

Will the media bother to read either article in full, or the dreaded section 1233?  We’ll see, but my instinct is that the waters have been sufficiently muddied so that Robert Gibbs can look forward to some more “he said/she said” coverage.

Pelosi and Hoyer Undercut Message With ‘Un-American’ Rhetoric

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today that makes a lot of excellent points about the current healthcare debate.  Unfortunately, they lead with the kind of loaded statement that plays into the right’s “stifling dissent” meme.  The title of the piece is ‘Un-American’ attacks can’t derail health care debate.

Forget, for a moment, whether Pelosi and Hoyer actually make an effective case for the Un-Americaninity of the town hall protesters.  For the top two members of the House of Representatives to use the phrase “Un-American” bespeaks a tone-deafness beyond belief, evoking echoes of McCarthyism.  It also represents a hypocritical brandishing of the patriotism cudgel that the Democrats have just spent 8 years decrying.

The shame of it all is that the loaded phrase only appears once in the body of the article, and doesn’t really add much to the proceedings:

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

The fact is, there are many things you can call the protesters, but “Un-American” isn’t one of them, especially not from a liberal standpoint.  Are they rude?  Misinformed?  In some cases, delusional?  All of these are expressions of freedom that are as American as an apple pie baked by a bald eagle at a baseball game.

While they are correct in denouncing things like effigies of specific members of congress, they are clearly referring to the disruptive protesters as a whole, and the language of McCarthy is inappropriate and unhelpful.

The American response to these protesters is not to call them “Un-American,” but to shine the light of truth on them.  When they chant, invite them up on stage and see what facts they’ve brought with them.  The balance of Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s piece contain some facts that are pretty tough to argue with:

The first fact is that health insurance reform will mean more patient choice. It will allow every American who likes his or her current plan to keep it. And it will free doctors and patients to make the health decisions that make the most sense, not the most profits for insurance companies.

Reform will mean stability and peace of mind for the middle class. Never again will medical bills drive Americans into bankruptcy; never again will Americans be in danger of losing coverage if they lose their jobs or if they become sick; never again will insurance companies be allowed to deny patients coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Lower costs, better care

Reform will mean affordable coverage for all Americans. Our plan’s cost-lowering measures include a public health insurance option to bring competitive pressure to bear on rapidly consolidating private insurers, research on health outcomes to better inform the decisions of patients and doctors, and electronic medical records to help doctors save money by working together. For seniors, the plan closes the notorious Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” that denies drug coverage to those with between $2,700 and $6,100 per year in prescriptions.

Reform will also mean higher-quality care by promoting preventive care so health problems can be addressed before they become crises. This, too, will save money. We’ll be a much healthier country if all patients can receive regular checkups and tests, such as mammograms and diabetes exams, without paying a dime out-of-pocket.

Scary Obama OFA Edict:”Visit Rep. Adler’s office in Toms River”

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What kind of sorcery is this?  Organizing for America sent me an email (a technology that I’m still not convinced won’t at least “borrow without asking” my soul) urging me to visit my local Democratic congressman.  Eerily so: (via email)

According to our records, you live near Rep. John Adler’s office in Toms River, NJ.

We’re through the looking glass, here, people. They know where I live! Continue reading

Newt Gingrich Next Republican to Play “Death Panel!” Here’s What You’ve Won

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The Republicans are so awesome.  Man, if there were no Blue Dogs, life would be perfect.

Sarah Palin invented a great game show called “Death Panel,” and Newt Gingrich, one of the folks battlin’ it out with Palin for headship of the party, is the latest contestant.  Let’s hear Newt make the case for “Obama Death Panels”:

Oh, sorry, Newt, you hit the “bankrupt” spot on the wheel.  You lose all of your party’s credibility.  Well, at least you didn’t lose much.

Kudos to Stehanopoulos for his repeated use of the phrase, “It’s not in the bill.”  This should be on t-shirts.

Funny that, to the extent Newt thinks we’re being asked to “trust government” (if you’re too lazy to read 1,000 double-spaced, triple-indented pages), he’s willing to put the same trust in corporations who have demonstrated they don’t deserve it.  Or does Newt envision that corporations don’t want to cut costs?

Newt, you are not being asked to trust the government.  You’re just being asked to read the bill.  If you have trouble with it, let me know and I’ll explain it to you.