Let the rationing begin

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Last year, when one iteration of the health care bill introduced us to “comparative effectiveness panels” that would decide on what sorts of medical treatments would get paid for under the new health care regime, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin referred to them as “death panels.”

That earned her a “Pants on Fire” and “lie of the year” designation from Politifact.com. The political elite derided her as a demagogue and a simpleton.

Last week, The New York Times’ David Leonhardt vindicated Palin – though no one in the MSM is interested in noticing that inconvenient fact.

None of these steps will allow us to avoid the wrenching debates that are an inevitable part of health policy. Eventually, we may well have to decide against paying for expensive treatments with only modest benefits. But given how difficult that would be for this country, it makes sense to start with the easier situations — the ones in which “no” really is the best answer for patients.

Define “expensive” and “modest.” Sorry, but you won’t get to define those terms, the government will.

You were told the government wouldn’t get between you and your doctor? Well, that wasn’t exactly true either.

There is little in the health care bill that truly bends the cost curve of medicine down – despite all the claims of adding 30 million people to the insurance pool saving money. What is in there that can bend the cost curve down is the bureaucracy. The comparative effectiveness panels can decide that some treatments aren’t worth the expense. The Department of Health and Human Services can decide that some drugs, treatments, etc. don’t need to be covered by the health care plans – and they won’t.

James Taranto wittily pointed out what all this means:

Oops, sorry about that, Gramps!

It seems as though this is a pretty strong argument against ObamaCare. But we need to encapsulate it in a pithy phrase. What would you call governmental institutions that empower bureaucrats to decide when to deny medical treatment–panels, as it were, that have the authority to determine when a patient’s death is necessary for the health of the fisc?

Coming up with a suitable term is a high-powered intellectual challenge. Our thinking cap is on, and we’ll get back to you as soon as something dawns on us.

Medical treatment will always be rationed. It’s rationed now via the insurance companies, the fact that it can be difficult to get health coverage unless it’s paid for by your employer. And I’m not saying that insurance companies are saints. But I will say this: It’s easier to use the media and public opinion to shame an insurance company into doing the right thing. Good luck trying to shame a government bureaucracy.

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