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September 9, 2009

Deja vu: Palin and death panels

sarah palin and death panelsSarah Palin is talking death panels again. This time, instead of using Facebook, she is recycling this bugaboo in the pages of The Wall Street Journal this morning.

Hoping to grab attention on the morning of the president's health care address to Congress, she criticizes Obama's desire to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council, what she calls "an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing medical costs." Using Obama's words, the failed 2008 vice presidential candidate says this group "should guide decisions regarding that 'huge driver of cost ... the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives ...'"

Given such statements, Palin writes: "[I]s it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by -- dare I say it -- death panels. Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans."

The concept of death panels has been debunked time and time again, but the former Alaska governor keeps trotting it out,  because she wants the spotlight. It's working. Television this morning was all over the gambit, discussing her latest attempt to get into a policy discussion in which she has no role.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder wrttes in a piece called "Media Challenge: Will They Take The Palin Bait?" -- soon after the op-ed became available online last night -- that Palin should not be taken as an authority on health care issues.

So here's a challenge to the media: if you want to do justice to conservative ideas and find some balance in your coverage tomorrow, book serious Republicans with original ideas on your programs.  If you don't, Palin is giving herself a voice at your expense and through little effort of her own.

AP Photo

Posted by Stephanie Desmon at 10:39 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Health care reform



Lets talk some substance on the issue of healthcare reform.

Have you ever heard the term Sovereign Immunity?

It's a horrid read, but this a good explanation.

If government is in charge of your medical care, you better watch out!!! No scare tactics or misrepresentations, just the facts here.

I'll never forget my administrative law class because I learned that it's extremely difficult to sue the government.

In 1950, the Supreme Court ruled that a soldier that had 30 inch long surgical towel that read "Property of the US Army" left in his stomach for six months after his surgery could not sue the military's surgeon for malpractice because of SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY.

THAT IS A FACT. So, set aside death panels for now.

Tell me how we safeguard Americans from malpractice in the public option when Sovereign Immunity exists?

Ballz Mahoney it is also extremely hard for patients to sue private insurers. The HMOs have tremendous immunity conferred on them by no less an august body than the US supreme court in 2004. ERISA the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act forbids states from allowing individuals to sue HMOs for damages related to HMO medical decisions. Big business and government-- one and the same--in bed together--if you are not looking out for yourself you are chutney.

Doctors can be sued, and that is why you see those commercials of ambulance chasing lawyers making bank off malpractice claims.

As an agent of the government, this doctor was protected by sovereign immunity back in 1950.

There was no recourse for the patient at all. HMO's may be hard to sue, but doctors can be sued. Sovereign immunity would make for a complex issue. Follow?

I'd really like for Stephanie to engage in this substantive debate. You doing some research on the issue or are you unfamiliar with sovereign immunity?

I agree with you Ballz about the difficulty of suing government--but not so about doctors' liability--even under a public option doctors can be sued. The two places where, may be, doctors got away with malpractice in the past are the military and Veterans Administration--but even in these institutions doctors are sued now and out of court settlements are made. Doctors who participate in Medicare can also be sued. Doctors who accept the public plan, if there is one--and I doubt this will come about any time soon despite the President's assertions tonight--they can be sued. Doctors are never really immune from suits Ballz--I agree with you-- sovereign immunity is not a piece of fiction----and one has to watch if a public plan will benefit from such broad immunity--on an aside-- doctors don't have to participate in a public plan if they don't want to--what President Obama forgets is that doctors may opt out of this public plan. Several are already opting out of state Medicaid plans and out of Medicare. What's the point of all these plans without docs? Not to get away from the topic at hand--yes, it will always be hard to sue the government but you can't make a direct analogy between this military insurance incident from 1950 and Medicare as it stands today or even the proposed public plan. You will be comparing apples, oranges and pears when you do so. There are government plans of all different stripes and these plans do not protect the doctor from suits. You have to compare the government to the HMOs --that is a good parallel--and just like the government has broad immunity from suits so do the HMOs through ERISA. By the way I know military and VA docs who have been sued by patients and government has quietly paid off the injured parties. The settlements may not be be up to par but you are wrong that docs in the government system are immune from suits--we've come a long way from the 1950s.

Both of you are way off track. You are concerned with issues that are irrelevant and have no place in the current health care debate. NOBODY (Congress, House of Reps, President, etc..) is proposing that the government take over health care.And you dare proclaim "no scare tactics"! Are you familiar with the current proposal? If so you would know that the only individuals that will be affected will be the 30 million people without coverage. Oh, and P.S. you can still sue the doctors if you choose the government health insurance option,they will remain employed by their current employer. Jesus, pay attention out there!!

So, if the public option is available, what's to stop my employer from cutting the benefits offered now and going with public option?

Nobody is forcing the public option, but what is to stop most employers from dropping insurance they have to pay more for?

I don't buy the gaurentee that my health coverage won't change and 52% of Americans paying attention to the debate don't support Obama's agenda.

Sovereign immunity is just one other issue that I would like hear addressed within reform.

SV, you had a chance to engage in substantive debate, but you chose to stand outside and bicker about who's paying the most attention. I thought the time for bickering is over?

Hey Sarah, your 15 minutes of fame are up. Disappear already!

Wow, SV, why don't we also demand that Congress and POTUS discuss why you didn't get a puppy for your 6th birthday.?

What's to stop an employer now from dropping coverage, cahnging insurers to raising your contribution, or cutting you back to part time so they don't have to give you any benefits?
If you would bother to READ HB3200, you would see that if employers dropped coverage, they would be subject to a hefty tax to cover their employees exchange coverage. They would also have to congruently cover their part time employees. Literacy is a wonderful thing.

Sovereign immunity isn't really a question of malpractice. The real issue is contractual. If my insurance company refuses to honor my contract with them so i can get a procedure done, I can sue. If the government refuses, i'm screwed.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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