Was Sarah Palin right? 1


By Tom Quiner

Let us revisit a notorious statement from last year:

“The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Sarah Palin, August 7, 2009

Ms. Palin was excoriated by the Obama administration and his cheerleaders in the media for her use of the term “death panel.”  Her statement is worth revisiting in light of who President Obama nominated to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Obama has mandated massive cuts in these two programs.  The new administrator will make those cuts. That man, should his nomination be approved, is Dr. Donald Berwick of Harvard Medical School.

Let us review Dr. Berwick’s philosophy so we can put Ms. Palin’s fears to rest regarding “death panels.”  I have accumulated several of his quotes which sets out his vision for medical care:

• Talking in London to the Brits about their system, he said:  “I hope you will never, ever give up what you have begun.  I hope you realize and affirm how badly you need — how badly the world needs — an example at scale of a health system that is universal, accessible, excellent and free at the point of care — a health system that, at its core is like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous and just.”

Free care is what he wants.  Don’t we all!  But Dr. Berwick is just getting warmed up:

• “I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it.”

In other words, he believes in a single payer system.

• “You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach.  You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too little of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.”

In other words, you ration.

• “You could have protected the wealthy and the well, instead of recognizing that sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker, and that any health care funding plan that is ‘just’ must redistribute wealth.”

Translation:  socialism.

Last year, President Obama signed a bill which funded the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (aka Healthcare Rationing Council).  Here is Dr. Berwick’s take on what comparative effectiveness is all about:

• “The first is to determine whether a therapy works or not. The second is to determine how well the therapy works compared to other therapies. The third is to do a cost-benefit analysis. If a new drug or procedure is effective, and has some advantage over existing alternatives,then does the incremental benefit justify the likely additional cost?”

Now we get to the nitty-gritty:  if you’re paying for your own health care, you get to make those decisions yourself.  If the government is subsidizing it, as they shall under Obamacare, they make the decision, not you.

Dr. Berwick makes it clear what that will mean to you:

• “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care, the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

Will healthcare be withheld (rationed) to some sick Americans?  According to the President’s nominee to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the answer is yes. That’s what rationing means.  Some get it, some don’t, and you don’t get a say in it.

Call it what you want:  Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research or a death panel, the result is the same.

Does Obamacare require you to pay for abortions? Reply


Yes.

Despite the furious debate between President Obama and a few conscientious Democrats, like Bart Stupak, you and I are required by force of law to pay taxes that will abort babies.

Despite an Executive Order to the contrary, the long anticipated dream of the Democratic Party has been realized.  Tax-payer funded abortions are here.

I will point out how the Executive Order is circumvented in a moment.  First, let us review the three philosophies affected by the new abortion entitlement.

Group One

The first was clearly articulated in a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Des Moines Register (in response to my column the week before).  I quote:  “A fetus is a growth like a tumor – not a person, and has no human rights whatsoever.”

In other words, a fetus is an inhuman blob, a tumor, perhaps much like a gall bladder gone bad.  It is not a person.  To Americans with this philosophy, there is nothing objectionable to tax-payer funded abortions.  To this group, there is much to be said of ridding the world of unwanted babies, much as there is much to be said of ridding the world of gall bladders gone bad.

This group sees no moral issue with abortion.

Group Two

Group Two consists of President Obama and most of the Democratic Party.  They believe abortion should be rare, but safe.  This group gives tacit acknowledgement to the humanity of the fetus.  Why else should abortions be rare?  You wouldn’t say that if you viewed the fetus as being equivalent to a tumor, as Group One does.  However, despite its humanity, group two is unwilling to grant the fetus human rights and allows its destruction for any reason.

Group Two typically mouths the platitude:  “while I’m personally against abortion, I can’t impose my view on others.”

Group Three

Group Three views the fetus as a baby, as a human being, as a person with full human rights.

Notwithstanding the platitudes mentioned above, Group Two in fact joined with Group One in pushing for taxpayer funded abortions in the healthcare debate.

Even more, they agitate to remove conscience safeguards for pro life healthcare providers.  In fact, they very much wish to foist their view on others.

Group Three, of which I am a member, recoils in horror and shame at the thought that our tax dollars are used to destroy innocent human life in the womb.

At this point, you may want to know why Group Three is so worked up.  After all, the President issued an Executive Order to keep abortion out of the health care bill.  Right?

Unfortunately, there are loopholes.  The United States Catholic Bishops issued a summary of these loopholes:

***

• Federal funds in the Act can be used for elective abortions. For example, the Act authorizes and appropriates $7 billion over five years (increased to $9.5 billion by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) for services at Community Health Centers.  These funds are not covered by the Hyde amendment (as they are not appropriated through the Labor/HHS appropriations bill governed by that amendment), or by the Act’s own abortion limitation in Sec. 1303 (as that provision relates only to tax credits or cost-sharing reductions for qualified health plans, and does not govern all funds in the bill).  So the funds can be used directly for elective abortions.

• The Act uses federal funds to subsidize health plans that cover abortions. Sec. 1303 limits only the direct use of a federal tax credit specifically to fund abortion coverage; it tries to segregate funds within health plans, to keep federal funds distinct from funds directly used for abortions.  But the credits are still used to pay overall premiums for health plans covering elective abortions.  This violates the policy of current federal laws on abortion funding, including the Hyde amendment, which forbid use of federal funds for any part of a health benefits package that covers elective abortions.  By subsidizing plans that cover abortion, the federal government will expand abortion coverage and make abortions more accessible.

· The Act uses federal power to force Americans to pay for other people’s abortions even if they are morally opposed.

The Act mandates that insurance companies deciding to cover elective abortions in a health plan “shall… collect from each enrollee in the plan (without regard to the enrollee’s age, sex, or family status) a separate payment” for such abortions.  While the Act says that one plan in each exchange will not cover elective abortions, every other plan may cover them  — and everyone purchasing those plans, because they best meet his or her family’s needs, will be required by federal law to fund abortions.  No accommodation is permitted for people morally opposed to abortion.  This creates a more overt threat to conscience than insurers engage in now, because in many plans receiving federal subsidies everyone will have to make separate payments solely and specifically for other people’s abortions.  Saying that this payment is not a “tax dollar” is no help if it is required by government.

***

What gives the Catholic Bishop’s such credibility is that if the Stupak language was kept in the bill, the Bishops found much to commend in the rest of the bill.  (I humbly demur, but that is a post for another day.)

Does Obamacare require you to pay for abortions?  Yes.