Death Panels: “They’re Baaaack”

If you believed there was some government bureaucracy devised by Obamacare that was going to determine who got health care and who didn’t, or “death panels” were put in place to kill granny, wait until you see what private sector insurance companies have in store for many who will become eligible to buy insurance once the exchanges open for business Oct. 1st



Most people who pay even cursory attention to Washington, D.C. politics these days know that all the energy within the GOP is primarily focused on making the President look bad.  Even now after such self-centered attempts clearly failed to accomplish Mitch McConnell and the GOP’s primary goal in 2012 of making Obama a one term president.  More unpopular than even the Democrats in public polls, it is apparent that the Republican leadership is less concerned about voters than they are right-wing extremists within the Party and the wealthy special interests that sustain their campaign efforts in their gerrymandered districts.

Their current efforts to repeal and/or defund Obamacare is thinly disguised as an attempt to appease their conservative base.  Anyone who studies the issue at all however knows that most people polled are willing to live with this health care law passed in March 2010, albeit with some minor changes.

They do not want to remove those aspects of the law that empowers people to not only enroll in an insurance program that 44 million people have been unable to obtain prior to the passage of the Affordable care Act (ACA), but they also want to keep those measures in it that prevent them from being rejected by health insurance companies for having a pre-existing condition, prohibits insurance companies from canceling coverage or setting life time spending caps and they most certainly want at least 80% of their premium dollar to go to their health coverage, not the insurance company’s bottom line.

What other reason would the GOP have for pulling out all of the stops, including even shutting down the government and sending our economy back into a recession, to kill what they derisively refer to as Obamacare?  Hurting Obama’s image by attacking his signature policy achievement and hopefully by default the Democrats chances of keeping the oval office and Senate in 2014 and 2016 is all any astute observer could deduce for such insane behavior by the Party of No Compromise.  They have no alternative to offer the public if they succeed in repealing the law while millions of their own constituents will lose their productive capabilities without easier and less expensive access to “the world’s greatest health care system”.

The GOP and their partners in the media have been successful at one thing in their war on Obamacare.   Misinforming the public about what they stand to lose if the ACA becomes ineffective.   Most people polled who listen routinely to not only the right-wing TV and radio broadcast but even the main stream media have the impression that this law is more bad than good and will have negative consequences on their income sources.  Yet if conservatives were better informed than they have allowed themselves to be they would find not only is this law almost identical to what their Party recommended back in 1993 to counter President Clinton’s attempt to pass Universal health care in this country, it incorporates the free market principles that supposedly they cherish above almost every other belief they hold.

Sure there are government subsidies to help lower-income families enroll in this program to gain a minimum amount of coverage but most people will be paying some out-of-pocket expenses to purchase health insurance premiums from PRIVATE SECTOR exchanges.   Let me repeat that.  Consumers will spend their own money to purchase health insurance from privately owned entrepreneurs, not government-owned or subsidized agencies.   A lot of these consumers will be new to the market which means that more money will be pumped into the private sector which theoretically at least equates into more jobs and increased wages for existing employees.

Linda Norman, Joanna Galt

People who can afford health care coverage shouldn’t attempt to deny those who can’t.

The argument that anti-Obama warriors use about how those taxes needed to cover the subsidized policies of poorer income earners will raise the deficit and leave a debt burden to our children has one major flaw to it.  The smaller amount of your taxes that goes to this program offsets any expense the public assumes when health care costs continue to rise and deprives them of more of their disposable income.  It also overlooks the fact that when we make affordable health care available for everyone, they remain more productive in their job performances.  Any free-marketer knows the advantages of a highly productive work force.

Now having said all of this, there is in fact one aspect of Obamacare that some conservatives ought to be railing against, especially those who shared Sarah Palin’s views about imaginary “death panels” they claimed were originally built in to the Affordable Care Act.  Those so-called “death panels” centered around the laws allowance for elders to discuss with their personal physicians and selected relatives about end-of-life measures they wanted carried out should their health deteriorate to a point where they were no longer physically or mentally functional.

Palin and her ilk also asserted that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) set up in Obamacare would determine who would and wouldn’t get health care, which doctors had to be used and that there was no oversight to prevent abuses.  Her twin sister, Michelle Bachman once claimed that the IPAB and its 15 appointees would “make all the major health care decisions for over 300 million Americans. I don’t want 15 political appointees to make a health care decision for a beautiful, fragile 85- year-old woman who should be making her own decision” Bachman said back in 2011.

These absurd claims were fact-checked by reliable sources and found to be unfounded and disingenuous.  But it should be a legitimate concern of everyone involved in obtaining health care coverage that the means to get the right treatment by the necessary professional not be a factor controlled by anyone other than the policy holder, including health insurance companies.   Sadly though, it appears that as Obamacare is set to be implemented next week there are those private sector health insurance companies and their partners in state government that are essentially doing what Palin and Bachman feared would result if the ACA became law.

WASHINGTON — Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.

From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans.


Daniel R. Hawkins Jr., a senior vice president of the National Association of Community Health Centers, which represents 9,000 clinics around the country, said: “We serve the very population that will gain coverage — low-income, working class uninsured people. But insurers have shown little interest in including us in their provider networks.”

Dr. Bruce Siegel, the president of America’s Essential Hospitals, formerly known as the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, said insurers were telling his members: “We don’t want you in our network. We are worried about having your patients, who are sick and have complicated conditions.”


Even though insurers will be forbidden to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, they could subtly discourage the enrollment of sicker patients by limiting the size of their provider networks.

“If a health plan has a narrow network that excludes many doctors, that may shoo away patients with expensive pre-existing conditions who have established relationships with doctors,” said Mark E. Rust, the chairman of the national health care practice at Barnes & Thornburg, a law firm. “Some insurers do not want those patients who, for medical reasons, require a broad network of providers.”    SOURCE  

To put this all more succinctly, when you limit access to adequate health care based on private sector policies intended to enhance their profits you are in fact serving as a form of “death panels”.  People who can afford any and all health care will not suffer but if Bachman’s “beautiful, fragile 85-year-old woman” was on a fixed income she would in fact probably suffer or even die because someone else made choices that didn’t have her best interests at heart.  Likewise, states that pass laws asserting they will not honor elements of the law that guarantee coverage despite having a pre-existing condition is yet one more example of the dark behavior expressed in the vernacular used by Palin and Bachman when denigrating Obamacare’s so-called death panels.

Choices limited by personal resources are more likely to harm vulnerable people than anything the opponents of Obamacare have thrown at us.  By allowing health insurance companies to undermine the intent of health care coverage as they seek to maximize their profit is a reality that we face today.  So where are the “death panel” crowds now?

10 responses to “Death Panels: “They’re Baaaack”

  1. When you repeat lies often enough … you know, Larry. The ignorant have stopped using their own brains to evaluate the benefits that Obamacare will provide. We’re living in a time when conservatives are openly exposing their racism and classicism. They don’t want Obamacare to fail; they want President Obama to fail. They’re nuts – their hyperemotional claims are pure lies. Too many of our politicians are in the pockets of big insurers. This is all self-serving politics and it stinks. I hope that young adults flock to Obamacare in droves. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to fix Obamacare just as Congress fixed Medicare. But, no, let’s throw it out on ideology alone. This is a sickening display of partisanship and I hope and pray that Republicans and their Tea Party puppet masters pay for this.

  2. Ha! I had to laugh at this: “I don’t want 15 political appointees to make a health care decision for a beautiful, fragile 85- year-old woman who should be making her own decision”

    Now let’s cut that down to size: “I don’t want 15 political appointees to make a health care decision for a woman who should be making her own decision.”

    Yes, Michelle… except, of course, if it has to do with their reproductive rights.

  3. and when it goes into effect and it works reasonably well, they will have lost, and they will move on to something else. forgetting about all the time and money they wasted trying to make it fail.

  4. These idiots on the Right are making themselves look uglier by the day. Forget the fact that the basic concept of “Obama Care”, came out of republican think-tanks, and was successfully implemented by a Republican governor: Mitt what’s his name? What appeals to me the most about the Affordable Care Act is it’s very conservative nature. Why should I pay more for health insurance when the uninsured are rushing to the emergency rooms, using up them resources. Let them pay, like I do, them my rates will come down because there’s competition in the oh so sacred “Market-place”.

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