Somebody call White House flack Linda Douglass at Fishy-1-1 - Mickey Kaus is circulating discouraging arguments suggesting Obama's risky health reform scheme might actually lead to "death panels", and yet again he is relying on Obama's own words:
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said his grandmother’s hip-replacement surgery during the final weeks of her life made him wonder whether expensive procedures for the terminally ill reflect a “sustainable model” for health care.
Gee, where could the misinformed town hall crazies have gotten the idea that Obama was thinking about saving money by denying expensive procedures toward the end of life? ... [via Dish] ... 1:49 P.M.
Ha! Folks who really want to stick it to Obama and sow hysteria about "death panels" will extract this from Obama's same fateful interview with David Leonhardt of the Times (my emphasis):
THE PRESIDENT: So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that’s also a huge driver of cost, right?
I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.
DAVID LEONHARDT: So how do you — how do we deal with it?
So Obama "suspects" that the legislative process will produce some sort of independent group that can give non-determinative "guidance" on end-of-life care for the chronically ill, with an eye towards saving money. Just don't call them death panels!
Well, as are friends on the left will surely chant in unison, it's not in the bill right now so it is calumny and perfidy to suggest we might end up there. Even though Obama "suspects" we will.
HOW "NOT DETERMINATIVE" IS NOT DETERMINATIVE: Just how voluntary will Obama's voluntary guidelines be? If the government posts suggestions on a website and leaves it at that, that is one thing. But suppose government watchdogs decide that a doctor who routinely fails to comply with the voluntary guidelines ought to be subjected to a full examination of his billing practices, treatment decisions and hiring practices. How many doctors will "volunteer" to comply with the guidelines rather than deal with that?
Think it can't happen? There is a cottage industry in helping people with chronic pain get prescription medicine; doctors hate the paperwork and the risk of a DEA investigation. Obviously this is not a perfect example - some people do get high on opioid pain pills in a way that probably would not apply to end-of-life care. But I stand by the point that doctors will allow a government hassle factor to guide their treatment decisions (and if they followed the voluntary guidelines, how are you going to sue them?).