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Thursday, 13 August 2009 04:07

Death Panel Update: Sarah Palin, Meet My Pal Merriam Webster

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by Meg White

On Wednesday night concerned citizen Sarah Palin posted a note on her Facebook page whining that President Obama "made light" of her Say It Ain't So, Sarah! Palin Uses Government Resources to Publicize Her Painconcerns that the government was going to come to Wasilla and kill her baby and parents.

Palin had said last week (via Facebook again, which is almost as good as the Alaska governor's home page) that the healthcare reform bill making its way through Congress contained a provision requiring elderly and disabled people to be put out of their misery by government "death panels." Though her conspiracy theory has been roundly debunked as twisting the increased availability of long-term care counseling into a horrific nightmare, she insisted that "it's misleading for the president to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision."

Actually, it's misleading to characterize it any other way, and Palin's own words expose her irresponsible fear mongering as complete falsehood. She continues (emphasis mine):

Section 1233 authorizes advanced care planning consultations for senior citizens on Medicare every five years, and more often "if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual ... or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility... or a hospice program." [3] During those consultations, practitioners must explain "the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice," and the government benefits available to pay for such services. [4]

Now put this in context. These consultations are authorized whenever a Medicare recipient's health changes significantly or when they enter a nursing home, and they are part of a bill whose stated purpose is "to reduce the growth in health care spending." [5] Is it any wonder that senior citizens might view such consultations as attempts to convince them to help reduce health care costs by accepting minimal end-of-life care?

In case you were wondering, the primary definition of the word "authorize" (used twice by Palin in the excerpt above to try to make this thing sound like a mandate) is "to give official approval to or permission for." Basically, the provision allows Medicare patients to have this service (which people already utilize on their own) paid for by the government.

Furthermore, can someone tell me whether Palin is actually arguing that doctors (or anyone else for that matter) would be able to "convince" senior citizens to die for the sake of the budget? Seriously?

So Sarah, from now on if you're going to make stuff up, at least have the respect for your audience to assume they have a working knowledge of the English language, or at least have access to a dictionary.


UPDATE: Think Progress is reporting that as governor Palin endorsed the same basic end-of-life counseling that she now refers to as "death panels." Too bad we already have our GOP hypocrite for this week!