Sarah Palin Again Bashes Obama, Congress on Rationing in Health Care Bills

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Sarah Palin Again Bashes Obama, Congress on Rationing in Health Care Bills

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 9
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has penned an opinion column running in the Wall St. Journal that again bashes Obama and Congress. She expands on her previous comments about "death panels" by saying that the bills wrongly endorse health care rationing.

Palin acknowledges the criticism of her "death panels" description of the problem but says the thrust of the argument was right on point.

"Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans," she writes.

She said they "made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context."

"But the fact remains that the Democrats’ proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we’ve come to expect from this administration," she writes.

Palin points out how Obama previously asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council, which she describes as "an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs."

"In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of "normal political channels," should guide decisions regarding that "huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives."

Palin responded: "Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats’ proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels?"

Although some have attacked Palin for using a little hyperbole to make a point about rationing, others have ultimately agreed with her analysis.

Congressional Quarterly columnist John Edgill, in a column he wrote late last week, said there are "nuggets of truth" in Palin’s concerns.

"Palin’s move was pure brilliance: in but a few keystrokes she synthesized the underlying suspicion at least half of Americans have about a government role in health care delivery and created a visual metaphor from which the Obama White House and congressional Democrats still haven’t fully recover," he said.

"So would it surprise you that Palin has a legitimate point?" the a former Democratic congressional staffer asked.

"There actually is a government-appointed panel, named MedPac, which is made up of health care experts — those pesky pinheads — who analyze and make policy decisions, including policies about death. MedPac oversees and evaluates Medicare’s costs, physician payments and quality controls. Its decisions affect health care coverage for 40 million American elderly and the medical institutions involved in end-of-life care — in this case, hospice care," he writes.

"In other words, there is a government panel which makes decisions that affect when (but not how) a hospice can ‘pull the plug on grandma," Edgill continues.

He adds that "there actually is some truth that changes in Medicare’s reimbursement methods for hospice care will affect how and for how long millions of senior citizens spend their final days."

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