Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal: Bring on the Death Panels.

Via Net Hentoff: Real Death Panels Are Coming Our Way
NEW YORK Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in economics and an influential New York Times columnist, also has a blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal." On ABC's "This Week" (Nov. 14), during a discussion on balancing the federal budget against alarming deficits, he proclaimed the way to solve this problem is through deeply cost-effective health care rationing.

"Some years down the pike," he said, "we're going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes." That would mean the U.S. Debt Reduction Commission "should have endorsed the panel that was part of the [Obama] health care reform."

Sarah Palin was one of the first, and the most resounding, to warn us of the coming of government panels to decide which of us -- especially, but not exclusively, toward the end of life -- would cost too much to survive.

She was mocked, scorned from sea to shining sea, including by the eminent Paul Krugman for being, he said, among those spreading "the death penalty lie" as part of "the lunatic fringe." (Summarized in "Krugman Wants 'Death Panels,'" Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Nov. 15.)

Soon after he had left the ABC studio, someone must have alerted Krugman that -- gee whiz -- he had publicly rooted for death panels!

Swiftly, on his blog, Krugman admitted he had indeed said those dreaded words, but:

"What I meant is that health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they're willing to pay for -- not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we're willing to spend for extreme care."

"Extreme care," Professor Krugman? To be defined by government commissions, right?
Extreme Care... Liberalism as we've known it spent. That's the Death Panel at work now. The idea and conscience have gone bankrupt and no extreme care's going to revive the ideological corpse.

Update: The conclusion from Paul Hsieh's, The Free Market Is Not Another Form of Rationing
Individuals are entitled to health care that they purchase themselves, is owed to them by contract (e.g., insurance), or is given to them as voluntary charity.

Whenever government attempts to guarantee an alleged “right” to health care, it must also control it. Bureaucrats and politicians must ultimately decide who gets what health care and when, not doctors and patients — if only to control costs. This is true rationing, and it necessarily violates the actual rights of the practitioners forced to provide care on the government’s terms (rather than their own) and the taxpayers forced to pay for it.

The free market is therefore the antithesis of rationing. It respects individual rights, whereas rationing unjustly violates individual rights — a crucial moral distinction.

If liberals are genuinely concerned about making health care more affordable, they should support free market reforms. Although the current American system is not a free market (but rather a mixed system), it is the least-regulated sectors of medicine — such as LASIK eye surgery — that follow the typical free-market pattern of falling prices and rising quality that we take for granted with computers and cell phones. This can and should be the norm in all of health care.

So when someone argues that a free market in health care would be just “another form of rationing,” challenge that claim. You won’t merely be debating semantics. You will be defending justice and individual rights. You will be helping to lower costs. And if someday you need an MRI scan in six days rather than six months, you may even be saving your own life.
...and my classic example of how government intervention in Health Care involves decisions on Capital Investment. Think the corruption brought to Illinois Government with the Health Facilities Planning Council, and Hospital Execs wearing wires for the Fed as they're shook down for bribes, or the Guv Blagojevich himself shaking down Chicago's Childrens Hospital.


Charlie Talbert said...

The United States currently has a de facto "death panel" health care system, based upon economic class. For example, a poor person may not be able to get his lump checked out, and he dies; the guy with insurance or other means has it taken care of early, and he is permitted to live.

Every health care system has rationing, but ours isn't rational, and it doesn't recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Bill Baar said...

...why doesn't your poor person go on Medicaid?

I was the Federal Medicaid Auditor over the State of Michigan in the 80s and the package their rivaled the UAW plan. The State workers at Mich's Dept of Social Services made a point of letting me know that as they were under the UAW plan.

Your care should be between you, your provider, and your carrier...not you, your provider, your carrier, and Krugman's death panel.

Charlie Talbert said...

Maybe Michigan’s Medicaid program is more liberal than Wisconsin’s, but as a CFO of a two-hospital and physician clinic system here, I can say that many people who cannot afford insurance or the cost of healthcare also do not qualify for Medicaid.

If you think there’s no rationing going on between “you, your provider, and your carrier”, I’ll leave you alone with that happy thought; and just say that “death panel” may be a nifty pejorative, but hardly helpful to a serious conversation about healthcare delivery.

Bill Baar said...

I had Wisconsin too in the 80s.

No, no rationing what so ever between me, provider, and blue cross blue shield.

One upon a time, long ago, when Liberals believed in abundance and prosperity, we had the Hill Burton Act which sought to address scaricity of care, by building more hospitals.

Than Medicare came in 1965 and how many hospitals shut down? (One can view the pictures in the lobby of Chicago's Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council of the once proud now gone institutions).

Now were going through the next round of government enforced scarcity at the hands of Dr. Berwick.

Death Panels to come for sure... will look like Canada with nary a Cat Scanner ...benchmark your institution against a clinic from the north and see how many patients you'll keep.