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The New Death Panel: Well Baby Visits are ObamaCare Home Invasions!

Death Panel Follies

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin took to Facebook last week to make this pronouncement about H.R. 3200, a version of health care reform legislation before the House:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Palin was rightly ridiculed for five reasons:

First, the bill Palin is referring to is not Barack Obama’s; Obama is letting the House and Senate write their own bills, and this one is sponsored by Representative John Dingell.

Second, the provision in the bill she refers to is not a “panel,” but rather a single person — the person’s doctor (or physician assistant or nurse practitioner, if a person chooses to go to them for primary care).

Third, there is no “have to” in the legislation forcing people to stand before their own doctor in some cold, dark room and petition for their baby or their mommy not to die. There’s no patient mandate whatsoever. The only “have to” involved is that insurers would have to reimburse doctors for consultations with patients about advance care directives, giving people the right to have such consultations once every five years if they want to. Other covered topics: pain management and hospice.

Fourth, completely demolishing the notion of appearing in front of a panel, the decision about health care provision is not even made by a doctor. Decisions are made by patients, if they choose to engage in such consultations in the first place. The consultation has to do with advance care directives and living wills. The role of the doctor in this consultation is to provide information about patients’ rights and to indicate how patients would go about expressing their desires about how they would like to be cared for. The entire procedure is about ensuring that a patient’s desires regarding care are articulated and met.

Fifth, as Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin herself signed a bill encouraging people to do exactly what she’s criticizing — to consult with their doctors and draw up advance care directives.

But despite the fact that Palin’s “Death Panel” notion is bullhockey five times over, it is being repeated by other Republican party figures with aspirations of national leadership like Senator Chuck Grassley and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Expect the strategy followed by Obama birth certificate conspiracy theorists to be employed by those behind the new “Death Panels” conspiracy. They’ll:

1. Air bizarre claims that have no empirical support (“Barack Obama was born in Kenya as the love child of Malcolm X!” “My parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’.”)

2. When people point out the claims are fictitious, retreat to, “Well, isn’t it possible?” (hint: the landing of space aliens on Washington, DC’s National Mall tonight on prime time television is also “possible”)

3. Based on the “possibility” of the utterly fictitious claim, demand a series of ever-stricter denials of the “possibility” by political opponents (“Why won’t Barack Obama submit to a simple mitochondrial RNA test regime?” “Why hasn’t Nancy Pelosi condemned the future gassing of paraplegics?”).

4. Cackle at the distraction, rub hands in glee, repeat.

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has already moved on to step 2 when it comes to “Death Panels.” Sure, Parker admits, the legislation doesn’t actually set up anything remotely like a “death panel” declaring forced euthanasia, but it sure is possible in the future:

We can also imagine a scenario when, feeble and ill, we might be subtly urged to forgo further life-sustaining treatment out of consideration for others. Given that “actionable medical orders” can be formulated from advance care consultations, the danger is that life-sustaining care would be precluded based on a check-mark on a document you signed five years earlier. It would be nice to think that everything goes as patients intend, but we can safely assume that when human error collides with bureaucratic efficiency, nightmarish enforcement scenarios could ensue.

Golly and gee whiz, can you catch all the hypotheticals? “We can also imagine…,” “we might be…,” “the danger is that…,” “it would be…,” “scenarios could ensue.” Each of these phrases meets the same standard of proof as that alien landing on the National Mall I mentioned earlier. I can imagine how it would play out, the scenario of interspecies sex could ensue, and boy oh boy it would be so cool, except the danger is that I’d catch a weird virus!

Someone tell Kathleen Parker that living wills are already recognized in all 50 states, and already allow “life-sustaining care to be precluded based on a check-mark on a document you signed five years earlier.” That’s what a living will is for. The only thing this new legislation does is to authorize reimbursement to medical personnel for the kind of counseling they already provide in hospitals across the nation. And should we halt a procedure because somewhere an unscrupulous grifter might push a little old lady into signing it? All right, then: we’ll have to outlaw wills, second mortgages, reverse mortgages, credit cards, extended warranties on dishwashers and hedge funds while we’re at it. We can’t have these documented arrangements continue to be legal, because Snidely Whiplash might force Old Widow Jenkins to sign one of them. I can imagine how the scenario would ensue!

The Next Wave: ObamaCare Home Invasion!

Don’t think it stops with “Death Panels.” The next big lie looming on the horizon is the “ObamaCare Home Invasion.”

Chuck Norris — yes, that Chuck Norris — is spreading this little tidbit around the web:

Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government’s coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.

It’s outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading “home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children.”…

Do you want government agents coming into your home and telling you how to parent your children?…

Children belong to their parents, not the government. And the parents ought to have the right — and government support — to parent them without the fed’s mandates, education or intervention in our homes….

How contrary is Obamacare’s home intrusion and indoctrination family services, in which state agents prioritize houses to enter and enforce their universal values and principles upon the hearts and minds of families across America?…

Before so-called universal health care turns into universal hell care, write or call your representative today and protest his voting Obamacare into law.

ObamaCare government agents engineering home intrusions that prioritize houses to enter? ObamaCare government agents usurping parental rights over your own children by coming into your home under federal mandate to conduct indoctrination sessions? Doesn’t that sound just Orwellian?

But read the bill and you’ll find that there’s a little word before the phrase “home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children.” Know what that word is? “Voluntary.” As in, not mandated. Not intruding. Not entering any homes without permission. Not usurping any rights. The bill gives bloc grants to the 50 states to support state-level programs that offer pre-natal and post-natal checkups if parents want them. There is a long history of just such programs offering visits by home health care nurses on a voluntary basis, offering prenatal health and developmental screenings for expecting mothers and little tykes. Your HMO most likely offers them already: they’re called “well-baby visits.”

Programs already exist in most states to do exactly this. At my local library in Columbus, Ohio, you could see literature posted up on the bulletin boards inviting expecting parents to sign up for Ohio’s Help Me Grow program providing advice to new parents and home-based checkups for those who want them. In the most recent year for which data is available, Ohio Help Me Grow funded 32,723 home visits by health care providers. In those visits, here are the most common subjects covered:

46.5% of visits included advice on baby feeding techniques. (Fascist!)
45.6% of visits included information on avoiding baby death from SIDS. (Communist!)
39.9% of visits included advice on how to take care of babies. (I bet they talk about that in Cuba)
34.5% of visits provided information on infant development. (Big Brother is smiling)
32.6% of visits provided information about vaccinations. (Aha! See, that’s, um, er, uh, hum, well.)

And here’s the kicker: 97% of the visits included a health checkup for the mother, and 99% of visits included a health checkup for the baby. How utterly evil this is. I mean, it sounds like health care or something. What are grants to state programs like these doing in a health care bill?

You’ve got to give Chuck Norris’ ghost-writer some respect for managing to turn these voluntary health care programs into ObamaCare Home Invasions. It really takes some imagination.

Why do opponents of health care reform legislation keep making up bizarre stories about what the bill would impose if passed into law? Because they know that 98% of you haven’t actually read the text of the bill, and they imagine that a large enough number of people will believe what they have to say if they say it loudly enough and often enough. Even if you don’t quite believe it, they hope you’ll have heard these vaguely scary things about the bill, vaguely scary enough that you nod your head when — after fifteen years of health care reform stalls — the pundits tilt their eyebrows on your video screen and ask, “Why the rush?”

Are they right? Will you believe the hype? Will these fictitious Orwellian “death panel” and “home invasion” scares paralyze you? Or will you take control by becoming directly informed? Will you take the time to read the bill for yourself? I hope you won’t take their word, and I hope you won’t take my word either — come on, go ahead and read the bill, or at least the relevant portions. Don’t fall into the scared and confused haze upon which the scaremeisters depend.

Advance care consultation reimbursement is on pages 425-431, and the well-baby visit provision is on pages 837-851. It’s not really as much material to read as you might think from the page numbers: the pages are short and have big text with lots of indentation space. Take responsibility as a citizen. Read.

18 thoughts on “The New Death Panel: Well Baby Visits are ObamaCare Home Invasions!”

  1. qs says:

    She’s nuts. However, if it scares the shit out of people, then I’m for it.

  2. qs says:

    Is “Healthcare Decisions Day” really a bill?

    Plus that’s on Parnell’s site. I’m not so sure she signed a bill for that.

    1. Jim says:

      It’s on the Governor’s web page, and Parnell is the Governor now, so it has his name at the top. Check the date of the bill at the bottom. 2008.

      1. qs says:

        Jim that’s the date of her statement. Healthcare Decisions Day has been going on in Alaska before she got there.

        1. Jim says:

          So? She is still making that statement. Why does it matter that other people have, too?

      2. qs says:


        The more I think about this, the more I think this post is a distortion. Sarah Palin made a state proclamation encouraging people to seek living wills…as in she would encourage them to go exercise or something.

        Obama’s bill is Federal mandate backed by force.

        1. Jim says:

          qs, where is there a mandate that people must have living wills in the bill? It’s not there. There is no such mandate. None.

          1. qs says:

            Hmmm well OK,

            When are you going to address this post by Scott Horton.

            You’re always addressing torture. If Obama was continuing Bush’s extraordinary rendition program, don’t you think that would be a game breaker for most of the left? Then again Clinton supposedly did it, and he was able to get reelected despite left-wing protest.

          2. Jim says:

            We’ve written about Obama moving to suppress evidence of extraordinary rendition during the Bush years. And of course during the Bush years we wrote frequently about the use of extraordinary rendition and the torture that resulted.

            But what you’re referring to is a hyperbolic press release by Scott Horton that is not comparable. First, it isn’t taking someone from U.S. soil to a third country where he or she will be tortured. It’s taking someone from Afghanistan and bringing them to be charged in federal court on U.S. soil on fraud charges.

            The “torture” — manacled to a table for seven hours! Only given a blanket overnight with temperatures in the 40s! — doesn’t sound pleasant, and I don’t like it, but it’s comparable to conditions in which detained protesters in the United States have been treated, not meeting the standards of torture in 18 USC 2340 as I read them. I’m not a legal expert, but the description of what went on isn’t even close to what went on during the Bush years.

            The detainee will have full legal rights during trial, another difference from extraordinary rendition cases during the Bush years.

            There are three big differences that, put together, don’t cause me to rise out of my chair in alarm. That’s why I’m in no rush to “address this post.”

          3. qs says:

            That’s nonsense. Scott Horton was the one who debunked (Renditions Buffoonery
            By Scott Horton
            ) the February first LATimes article that was viral on conservative sites because it was saying that Obama was continuing extraordinary renditions when he wasn’t. The LATimes article also confused renditions (no problem) with extraordinary renditions, and Scott Horton pointed that out.
            Why would he suddenly become confused about the difference.

            No one has refuted Horton’s newest article in which he changed his mind.

          4. Jim says:

            What’s nonsense?

            Is it nonsense that the person involved in rendition was taken to the United States, not to a third-party nation?

            Is it nonsense that the treatment of this person was not as harsh as treatment during the Bush era?

            Is it nonsense that the person involved in rendition was taken to the United States to face trial?

            What did I say that was nonsense? Please be specific.

          5. qs says:

            Hmmm good point.

  3. qs says:

    No one has yet explained why congress is exempting itself from Obamacare either.

    1. Jim says:

      Why are you calling it Obamacare? It’s not Obama’s legislation. It’s John Dingell’s legislation, if H.R. 3200 is the bill to which you refer. To which bill are you referring, and who is its sponsor?

  4. ReMarker says:

    A very comprehensive post.

    Relative to the question, “Why do opponents of health care reform legislation keep making up bizarre stories about what the bill would impose if passed into law?”, your answer, that ‘the opponents know most people won’t read HR 3200’, is on target.

    An additional answer to an expanded target, of the same question, is; An Obama defeat increases the GOP election chances in 2010, and since most of the GOPers in, or aspiring to, political office will sell out, in terms of doing what is best for America, the insurance companies, oil companies, radical religious fundamentalist, white supremist, anarchist, foreign operatives, conservative radio talk show hosts, (among others) want Obama to fail in his Administration’s attempts to help our country be a more perfect union.

    My hope is that people of conscience, like the Green Party and its members would join forces with a large influencial political party, like the Democratics, push hard for their “help America” agenda (in addition to helping keep the Democrats honest) from within an organization that can be a strong force in helping (over time) make the changes we all need.

    The changes won’t come fast, even if the need for them is blatently obviously to many of us. Look how much resistance there is to something so important as stabilizing our economy and correcting the health care delimma.

    “Good policy” opposition is relentless, often fraudulent and hard to calculate. Overcoming the “America can’t be trusted” crowd takes as many people as possible, working together, to show it’s not that America can’t be trusted, it’s the GOP that can’t be trusted.

  5. randy ray haugen says:

    hmmm. well o.k.
    hmmm. good point.
    now that you have rebutted q.s.’s ridiculous counterpoints,
    it’s amazing how quickly the subject changed to what?
    rendition! torture!
    that’s how insane the right-wing arguments against healthcare reform are.
    misinformation, lies and scare tactics, then change the subject.
    you really have to be brain dead to fall for these tired, worn out, b.s. arguments about death panels and such.
    come to think of it, death panels may be just what we need to deal with the brain dead. of course, we would need a lot of panelists to take on all the gullible hannity and limbaugh crowds.

    1. qs says:

      Except that I don’t think this health care day was a bill that Sarah Palin passed. She just issued a statement.

  6. ReMarker says:

    I once read a strong argument for stopping the use of warning labels. The hypothesis was that the number of dumb people would diminish by attrition. Example: A Superman suit not having a label saying “Wearing this suit will not help you fly. Trying to fly may cause injury or death”.

    OFC it is always best to “Teach Your Children Well”. Link

    I saw these guys a few times too. (Another group from the Woodstock era).

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