One Year Of Health Reform And My Familys Grandma Is Still Alive

Bill Scher

It’s been a year since the President Obama’s Affordable Care Act became law. During that period of time, no federal government health department, bureau, agency or panel has ordered anyone’s death. I just checked on my family’s grandmother. She’s still here.

This news may shock many conservatives who don’t have grandmothers and aren’t aware that no grandmother has had her pulled by the government. If such a thing had happened, I think Fox News would have found a way to let us know about it by now.

This should be a time to hold people to account for their rhetoric. Those who made hysterical claims that have proven to be detached from reality should be publicly discredited and ignored in the future until their admit their falsehoods.

At least, you might think those who peddled lies in the past, if they did not have the honor to own up to their actions, would possess enough shame to refrain from repeating them.

Alas, no.

Conservative website “The Daily Caller” headlined the “scoop” about the “Real Death Panels” in the health care law, citing GOP congressman Phil Roe. He has legislation to prevent the establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which Roe falsely says would deny people life-saving treatments. The Daily Caller “reports”:

The board would cap the total amount of money Medicare recipients could get for care. Roe, a practicing doctor before he entered politics, said that means health care decisions will end up being based solely on cost, instead of what the best possible option is for Medicare patients.

“Basically, there’s a certain amount of money that’s allocated for Medicare spending each year,” Roe said in a phone interview. “Once you hit that amount that’s been appropriated, this board, this bureaucratically-appointed board, can then decide, not based on quality or need, but based on strictly cost.”

The wild charges against the advisory board were already debunked by Politifact last year.

The board would not dictate the amount of money Medicare recipients would receive. It would “submit legislative proposals containing recommendations to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending if spending exceeds a target growth rate,” which Congress could reject.

(Rep. Roe and the Daily Caller might be confusing the current health reform law with House Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s plan to give everyone on Medicare a lump sum of money to pay for their health care. The “compassionate conservative” plan gives those who run out of the money and still need more health care the opportunity to beg the government and hope they will be allowed more.)

Further, the advisory board is legally barred from making recommendations that would “ration care” or “change benefits,” among other things. It’s mission to find savings and address the main cause of our long-term fiscal problems through efficiency, and not through cruel benefit cuts and denial of effective treatments.

Despite their mendacity about “death panels, Rep. Roe and the Daily Caller at least put in the effort to identify an actual panel. That is one notch better than Wisconsin’s rookie Sen. Ron Johnson.

Yesterday, Sen. Johnson asserted in a Wall Street Journal oped that his daughter would not have been allowed life-saving treatment in her first month of life under the current law. But he didn’t even bother to assert what provision in the law would have forced such a horrible decision, let alone the provision which prevents children with pre-existing conditions from being denied health coverage. He just blithely and baselessly charges that the law “narrows” choices, “stifles creativity” which would “ration” care.

Of course, the only place in the country where the choice of effective life-saving treatments is being rationed is in Republican-governed Arizona. 98 people last year, who previously had organ transplants approved by the state Medicaid agency, were subsequently denied by the agency after budget cuts.

Two of the 98 have since died (though one had found an anonymous patron who would have paid for the procedure if he was physically ready for it.)

But there is nothing in the federal law that can be blamed for that, as the law mandates and funds the expansion of Medicaid.

There is a reason why Politifact christened the death panel charge with the “Lie Of The Year” award in 2009. Those who continue to repeat it are liars.

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