Death Panels! Death Panels! Death Panels!
As many of you know, after suffering from campaign burnout last year, I only crawl out of hiding when something really pisses me off. And guess what’s pissing me off lately? Health care reform. More accurately, it’s all the nonsense surrounding the health care reform debate that is pissing me off. Why? Because everyone on the teevee is full of shit. Everyone. The President is lying. The lobbyists are lying (no surprise there). And, perhaps worst of all, there are under-informed Joe-the-Plumber-wannabees showing up at town hall meetings acting like morons and then getting interviewed on cable “news” programs.
And, of course, there’s Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.
So, readers, I present you with Cap’n Colleen’s Top 5 Favorite Health Care Reform Rumors
1. Death Panels. Thank you, Sarah Palin. Remember how you quit your job? Now go the fuck away and stop taking complicated issues and turning them into folksy sound bites. There are no death panels mentioned in the health care bill. What sweet Sarah was referring to is probably a combination of two concepts that keep coming up in health care talk. One is the provision in the House bill for end-of-life counseling for senior citizens. Conservative pundits and former Alaska governors would like us to believe that bureaucrats are going to try and convince our grandparents to kill themselves cause it’s cheaper for the government if they’re dead. This is untrue. End-of-life services as defined by the bill include things like talking to seniors about living wills, understanding hospice care, and how to choose a health care proxy.
2. Health Care Rationing. This is the other thing Sarah Palin was referencing. Like all good rumors, this one has some truth to it. Rationing in regard to health care means exactly what it means in other circumstances. We’ve got to make sure there’s enough to go around, so you can’t just be greedy and keep all the expensive stuff to yourself. The thing that amuses me about this is that opponents of reform seem to think that rationing is unique to government-run health care. Private insurance companies ration health care all the time. It’s why insurance claims get denied. It’s why private insurers won’t pay for that expensive experimental procedure even if it happens to save your life. If you’re not paying out-of-pocket for all your health care, then someone in a cubicle somewhere is deciding whether or not they think you deserve it.
3. We’re Going to be Miserable Like the Canadians. I love it when people talk about Canada like it’s a horrible third-world country where everyone wishes they could be Americans. While I admit I hate the idea of hockey becoming a national pastime, I have serious doubts that health care reform is going to set us on a slippery slope to the great white north. First off, Canada has a single-payer health care system. This means that the government insures everyone. While I’m confident that everyone is lying to us about health care reform, I think it’s probably true that this is a long way off, if it ever happens at all. The House bill doesn’t recommend a single-payer system. The President doesn’t want a single-payer system. In fact, he’s pissed off a bunch of people who do want a totally government-run system with all the talk about not supporting a single-payer system.
4. Long lines! And We Can’t Pick Our Doctors! This also has some truth to it. The lines might be long. And it’s possible we won’t be able to see any doctor we want. But guess what! If you have private insurance now, you probably can’t pick your own doctor. Well, you can pick him, but only off a list approved by your insurance company. And anyone who’s been in an emergency room, like, ever, can tell you the lines are already pretty fucking long for a lot of people. This just goes to show you that when the government makes our lives difficult, it’s tyranny. When corporations make us miserable, it’s freedom.
5. Socialism! Like Russia! I have heard this a lot on tv lately….this whole, Russia is/was socialist stuff. Let’s get something straight, folks. Russia wasn’t really socialist. It was communist. I know it’s confusing cause of the whole Union of Soviet Socialist Republics thing, but if you look at how the government was actually run, it was communist. In fact, their only political party (cause you really only get one when you’re communist) was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But even without the specter of the USSR, most people are freaked out by socialism. And, like, all economic philosophies, socialism has some pretty serious flaws. But we already have a variety of socialized programs in this country: social security, medicare, the public school system. Are these perfect institutions? Absolutely not. But America is already more socialist than you think. It has been for a long time, but it only seems to come up when a Democrat is president.
All this health care talk is really much ado about nothing considering this is far from being finalized. Eventually, they’ll work something out. More than likely, the finished product won’t be as scary as Fox News wants you to believe or as awesome as your Che-idolizing friends hope. Until then, don’t believe anything you see or hear…or…read. Unless it’s on factcheck.org, cause clearly, I totes adore them.