Sarah Palin, a few days ago, suggested the Obama’s healthcare plan would make her Downs Syndrome child Trig and her aged parents stand in front of a “death panel” (She suggested this, apparently, on her Facebook page). Obama has since spoken to this, saying that the House bill (HR3200?) has a provision for senior citizens to be offered end of life counseling, but no one is obligated to accept it or create a living will or whatever. Certainly no one is obliged to choose when and/or how to die.
Palin has responded to Obama on Facebook. It is an eloquent, intelligent examination of the subtle ways that the House bill might compel senior citizens to accept the end of life counseling and write living wills. In short –
I don’t think Palin wrote it
I don’t think half of her followers will read it (perhaps will be able to read it).
But I think it should still be responded to. And the response is, she has a point, albeit a limited one. If a senior citizen does go into a nursing home, and their new doctor (because the old doctor may transfer care to the nursing home) meets them for the first time and in the course of a first examination the doctor initiates a conversation about living wills and whether the senior citizen wants extraordinary life saving measures, the senior citizen may think that is simply a normal thing this nursing home does. And since the House bill cuts reimbursement to hospitals, doctors and nursing homes for other things to save money, the doctor would have reason to have this consultation (which Medicare will pay for).
Now, I don’t have a living will, I am not a senior citizen, and if I am injured and go on a machine, I am fine with being kept alive until a cure/treatment is found, or my brain can be transfered into a gleeming killer robot. I gather, though, that at least some, maybe many senior citizens don’t like the idea of being kept alive on a machine if they have some kind of crippling brain injury or incident. At the same time, they may not know what their options are or how to enforce their desires. So a consultation like the kind in the bill is actually not a bad idea for many people. The rest have the option of being offended and ordering the doctor out of the room (or whatever).
Palin also spends a few sentences bashing Ezekiel Emanuel, brother to Rahm and advisor to the President on healthcare. See, Ezekiel is an academic interested in health care ethics. So he has written about health care rationing, probably a good idea because it is something we may have to face. And Palin takes his comments out of context and claims the President wants to provide healthcare only to … well, who knows. Apparently not to her Downs syndrome baby or her parents.