For those who want the short answer to the question in this post’s title, the answer is almost definitely “no.” But in a New York Times op-ed piece in mid-September, former Obama “car czar” Steven Rattner effectively said that the so-called “fact-check” site known as PolitiFact should make amends to former Alaska Governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
What follows are several paragraphs from Rattner’s Times September 16 op-ed. Rattner understates the real-world power of ObamaCare’s Independent Advisory Board, which makes his citation of England’s version of death panels as something worthy of imitation a de facto admission (to the point where it doesn’t matter whether he himself admits it) that Palin is right about ObamaCare as it was proposed (at the time of her Facebook post) and ultimately enacted (bolds are mine):
WE need death panels.
Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently — rationing, by its proper name — the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.
But in the pantheon of toxic issues — the famous “third rails” of American politics — none stands taller than overtly acknowledging that elderly Americans are not entitled to every conceivable medical procedure or pharmaceutical.
Most notably, President Obama’s estimable Affordable Care Act regrettably includes severe restrictions on any reduction in Medicare services or increase in fees to beneficiaries. In 2009, Sarah Palin’s rant about death panels even forced elimination from the bill of a provision to offer end-of-life consultations.
Now, three years on, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Paul D. Ryan, has offered his latest ambitious plan for addressing the Medicare problem. But like Mr. Obama’s, it holds limited promise for containing the program’s escalating costs within sensible boundaries.
… Mr. Obama’s hopes for sustained cost containment are pinned on a to-be-determined mix of squeezing reimbursements, embracing a selection of the creative ideas that have spewed forth from health care policy wonks and scouring the globe for innovations.
To Mr. Obama’s credit, his plan has more teeth than Mr. Ryan’s; if his Independent Payment Advisory Board comes up with savings, Congress must accept either them or vote for an equivalent package. The problem is, the advisory board can’t propose reducing benefits (a k a rationing) or raising fees (another form of rationing), without which the spending target looms impossibly large.
… No one wants to lose an aging parent. And with price out of the equation, it’s natural for patients and their families to try every treatment, regardless of expense or efficacy. But that imposes an enormous societal cost that few other nations have been willing to bear. Many countries whose health care systems are regularly extolled — including Canada, Australia and New Zealand — have systems for rationing care.
Take Britain, which provides universal coverage with spending at proportionately almost half of American levels. Its National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence uses a complex quality-adjusted life year system to put an explicit value (up to about $48,000 per year) on a treatment’s ability to extend life.[...]
Enter the Independent Payment Advisory Board. ObamaCare deliberately insulated it from normal Congressional oversight and approval (its word is law unless Congress acts; IPAB shouldn’t be able act unless Congress approves its budget and priorities). By dictating overall spending levels, IPAB will restrict care without knowing who they’re doing it to, leaving the dirty work of deciding exactly who should and shouldn’t receive care to hospitals and other medical providers. Consider it death panel outsourcing. You can rest assured that providers will get the latest and greatest advice from the likes of “Zeke the Bleak” Emanuel and others with a utilitarian view of humanity on implementing “quality-adjusted life year system” and other schemes to decide who is unworthy of medical attention up to and including continued life.
Rattner has only admitted what anyone who has studied the situation already knows: ObamaCare will lead to rationing, which will lead to life-death decisions being made outside of patients’ and their families’ control. PolitiFact’s Halon was and is wrong. Palin was and remains right. Halon and PolitiFact should own up to their error.
You can read the entire piece here.
Update by Doug: Rattner isn’t the first Obama crony to admit that Governor Palin’s use of the death panel metaphor to describe the rationing of health care by the IPAB was not only accurate, but a key to Obamacare’s “success”. In a post over two years ago, I noted that both Paul Krugman and Obama’s OMB Director, Peter Orszag, came to the same conclusion.
The criticism of her metaphoric use of the phrase “death panels” wasn’t limited to Democrat politicians and their sycophants in the media. Even normally lucid conservative pundits criticized her for its use. Charles Krauthammer, in one of the most bizarre articles I have ever read, famously told her to “leave the room” at the beginning of his piece because there were no death panels before spending the rest of his article explaining why the rationing in the bill amounted to…death panels.
In a post three weeks ago, we linked a video in which ultra-lefty New York Times columnist Paul Krugman exculpated Governor Palin’s use of the metaphor:
More recently, Peter Orszag, Director of Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), further vindicated Governor Palin. Let’s go to the video and allow Orszag to explain in wonkish detail how ObamaCare’s death panels will work. Via Breitbart TV:
Amazing. First Krugman and now Obama’s own OMB Director confirm what Governor Palin has been saying all along: the advisory panel within ObamaCare responsible for rationing health care will effectively be a death panel for those deemed unworthy of the cost of the care. More on Orszag’s vindication of Governor Palin from Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey here and Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft here.
Exit question: When can we expect Charles Krauthammer to invite Governor Palin back into the room?