Sunday, November 28, 2010

Palin's Death Panels Found

In what seems forever, Sarah Palin has been getting the sheep of the right wing all worked up about health care reform and telling scary stories about supposed death panels that would be formed. These campfire spooky stories have become regular fodder for the TEA Party events.

Well, she was partially correct after all. There are really death panels out there. But these panels aren't where she said they would be.

One is in Arizona:

In Arizona, 98 low-income patients approved for organ transplants have been told they are no longer getting them because of state budget cuts.

The patients receive medical coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's version of Medicaid. While it may be common for private insurance companies or government agencies to change eligibility requirements for medical procedures ahead of time, medical ethicists say authorizing a procedure and then reversing that decision is unheard of.

The other one is in Florida:

One of the most destructive practices of private health insurance companies is the practice of denying care to customers for frivolous reasons. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services started including denial rates on its information section about health insurance companies on, in an effort to inform the public about this practice by the industry.

It was this practice of frivolous denials that ended up costing Jacksonville, Florida woman Alisa Wilson her life. For months, Wilson, her family, and the surrounding community had been pleading with her HMO to approve coverage for a liver transplant. Although Wilson was enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, she was not guaranteed care because she was “forced to join a private plan as part of a Gov. Jeb Bush-era experimental overhaul of the program,” meaning she had to deal with a private, for-profit insurance company to get her care, not a government agency accountable to the public.

Bush’s overhaul made “Florida the first state to allow private companies, not the state, to decide the scope and extent of services to the elderly, the disabled and the poor, half of them children,” the New York Times reported in 2005, as the move was being considered. “[N]o one is proposing changes as far-reaching and fundamental as” Bush, the Times noted.

It's not President Obama's health care reforms we should be worried about. What we should be worried about is how the incoming group of Republicans, who ran against health care for the unwashed masses of poor people, will do to the reforms that are in place. They are the real death panels.

Is it any wonder that most people want health care reform, or actually make it bigger, in spite of the hateful rhetorical claims from the right?

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