Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Wrong Target

"Obamacare Death Panels" have been in the news. A number of folks have talked about them, but it seems it was Sarah Palin (in a Facebook entry) who tagged them with that title. That entry caused a lot of discussion, some of it rather heated. Within a few days, Senators announced that the provisions for end of life counseling sessions were being removed from the Senate bill.

There's a problem with this: The counseling sessions aren't the problem (at least as long as there are protections so they don't become coercive). The problem is that the real death panels are the ones that will decide how health care will be rationed. They will decide what kind of patient will be allowed the medical care they need, and what kind of patient will be denied that care. They may not be deciding on individual patients, but they will be no less pernicious and immoral for that distinction. That small distinction will just let the panel members commit deliberate negligent homicide while convincing themselves they can pretend their hands are still clean.

These panels are still in the bills. And as Rich Lowry has noted,

the debate over the last two weeks has been unhelpful in one respect — it has focused attention on the end-of-life counseling when the deeper problem is the bill itself. The "death panels" may be dead, but the real threat remains.
What the Senate has identified as the "death panels" have been removed, but that's really just misdirection. The real death panels remain in the bills.

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