Death Panels: Yeah, That’s the Ticket!

It is hard not to enjoy the spectacle of Obamacare crashing on takeoff, but it is also important not to lose sight of the real issues. The essential problems with Obamacare have nothing to do with IT. A web site can be fixed, and presumably will be, but Obamacare can’t be. The fundamental problem with Obamacare is that Obama promised the impossible: more people having broader insurance coverage for less money. It can’t be done. The Democrats babbled about “bending the cost curve,” but that was pure BS. Obamacare does nothing to bring about efficiency in the delivery of medical services.

Sure, there are a few people who will be able to get health insurance more cheaply through Obamacare, but that is because they are low-income and their rates will therefore be subsidized. So, one guy will pay only half the real cost of his health insurance. The problem is that a second guy will be stuck with the other half of the cost, along with 100% of the cost of his own family’s coverage. That is a good deal, I guess, if you are the one getting your bills paid by someone else, but subsidy is not efficiency.

There is only one way that government control can bring down the aggregate cost of health care, and that is by rationing. The obvious move is to deny treatment to those who are deemed not worth it–generally speaking, the elderly. Although, after the last few weeks, one has to wonder whether “traitors” will join the old and sick on the “do not treat” list. The inevitability with which government medicine leads to rationing is obvious to pretty much everyone, but Democrats have indignantly denied that the logical destination of Obamacare is the death panel.

Until now, anyway. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but the pro-death faction seems to be coming out of the closet just as Obamacare is about to become a reality. Here it is, from Slate: “Canada has death panels, and that’s a good thing.”

When taxpayers provide only a finite number of acute care beds in public hospitals, a patient whose life has all but ended, but whose family insists on keeping her on life support, is occupying precious space that might otherwise house a patient whose best years are still ahead. …

Yet, the question remains: Who decides? Remember that, outside of Ontario, the resolution of these end-of-life disputes is generally reserved for judges. Ontario has simply replaced them with experts and wise community members.

Perhaps it is easier for Canadians to trust government-appointed panels, rather than judges, with decisions like these. For reasons that arguably go back to our respective foundings, Canadians tend to have more faith in our government and our bureaucratic processes than Americans do in theirs.

The costs associated with end of life care are a very real problem, and they will represent a political issue whenever taxpayers are footing all or part of the bill. If the Democrats’ solution to that problem is death panels–if that is their real plan to “bend the cost curve”–the president should tell us so.

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