Sunday, September 6, 2009

Where Are the Death Panels?

Tom122007 Of late the GOP has claimed that Obamacare will establish death panels that will pull the plug on grandma.  Most of the GOP leadership has repeated the claim, including Sessions, who did so immediately after Obama praised him in a national speech.  This type of thing is an old tactic at which the GOP excels.  They take what they are doing themselves and paint their opponents with that behavior.  Do death panels exist?  The person who told me the following story is a lady I used to date around seven years ago.  I have fallen out of touch with her, because she moved away.  So I won’t use the name of the patient, as I would not do do without permission, and I won’t use the name of the insurance company (a name everyone would recognize), because I cannot document the story.  I freely admit this is hearsay.  However, I believe her for three reasons.  In the years I knew her, her integrity was impeccable.  She is a medical doctor, she has the expertise to understand the patient’s condition.  She is a Republican, and she opposed my support for universal health care.

My friend’s aunt was a woman in her 90s.  Decades earlier, her husband had gotten her insurance coverage for life through his union.  This was back in the days before health insurance policies contained escape clauses, so the company had no choice except to pay for her care.  The woman had had extensive surgery and could not survive without considerable round the clock care.  Nevertheless she was pain free, fully alert, and happy enjoying the attention of her large extended family.  She could have continued several years.  However, the care she required was expensive, and the insurance company did not want to pay.

Oregon may still be the only state that allows physician assisted suicide.  At least we were the first.  One day my friend visited her Aunt in the hospital.  She heard voices coming from her aunt’s room, so she stopped outside the door and listened.  Her aunt was crying.  The other woman was trying to browbeat her aunt into requesting physician accepted suicide.  She said my friend’s aunt was a  burden to her family and on the community, and that she had her turn and now it was time to step aside so younger people could benefit from the resources being wasted on her.  My friend felt outraged, entered the room, and demanded to know who this woman was.  The woman said she was a counselor and that she worked or the hospital.  She hurried out without giving her name.  My friend talked to the nurses on the floor and learned that the woman had lied.  She was not a hospital employee.  She worked for the giant insurance company.

Today, insurance policies are full of loopholes.  When a patient becomes seriously ill, the first thing insurance companies do is search for an excuse not to pay the claim.  For example:

insurance greed ...The nurses union based its research on data reported to the state Department of Managed Health Care, which oversees HMOs.

In the first six months of this year, the group found denial rates ranged from 6.4 percent for Aetna to 39.6 percent for PacifiCare. According to the analysis, Cigna rejected 32.7 percent of medical claims, Health Net denied 30 percent of the time and Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross each rejected about 28 percent of their claims… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <San Francisco Chronicle>

Whether the insurance is government or private, someone decides whether or not to pay a claim.  The concern of  government employee is to make sure the claim is not fraudulent.  The concern of the insurance company employee is to maximize profit for the company.  Every year, people die, because insurance companies refused to pay valid claims.  So you tell me: where are the death panels?  Who do you want to make a decision whether or not to pay your claim?


Brother Tim said...

This was the major mistake of the Democrats during this debate. They should have responded to these lies with 'guns-a-blazin'. The most powerful rebuttal would have been, "The Death Panels already exist, they are staffed by the Insurance Industry; this is what we're going to eliminate."

TomCat said...

Brother, welcome back. You could not be more correct!

ivan said...

Welcome back, Tomacat.

Wow. What you'd recently gone through makes Oliver Twist seem like a Sandals vacationer.
You had been missed by me and my Quarks, fellow travellers of my blog.
Well, we've got free healthcare for everybody here in Canada, even Mamma San brought in from Asia by relatives.
But don't light a cigarette!
Big Brother will snuff it out, maybe even you.

the walking man said...

Welcome back Tom. You're already linked in to my blog roll.

It is the words that frighten them (the them that is the same them as it has ever been, them that are not one of us.) Not us as in exclusionary but us as in the excluded.

TomCat said...

Thanks Ivan. To listen to the right wing, you Canadians have to wait six months for an aspirin. I have enough Canadian friends that I know better.

Thanks, Mark. I plan to put mine up today. I hear you. The best defense against fear is information, I think.

Jo said...

Welcome back Tom. You have been missed...!

I have been reading so many Republican blogs who have used Canada's health care system is a bad example of health care. And yet according to the World Health Organization and the United Natons, we are way ahead of the United States. It would not be such a bad thing to use some of our system as a template for American's health care system.

We had a patient come into the CDC the other day. He is 80 years old. The doctors x-rayed his chest and found something suspicious. Within minutes the doctors were arranging a CT scan, an MRI and a referral to a respirology specialist for this gentleman. He was getting the best care in the world -- free. No insurance companies, no death panels and no waiting. There were no "government bureaucrats" telling this man what care he could or could not have, and although he is elderly, he was treated with the same care and respect as anyone half his age. I witnessed the whole process.

Dave Dubya said...

I see two large death panels. One is, of course, the insurance industry. The other death panel is the Republican Party and its Democratic enablers.

Corporatism is the death panel for democracy as well as life and liberty.

TomCat said...

Thank you, Josie. I only wish I were a Canadian, just to get your health care system. The WHO rates the US behind most industrialized countries. Twenty years ago 95% of insurance company premiums were paid out in benefits. Now it's 80% Senate Republicans are pushing for an ammendment to reduce the permissible level to 65%.

Dave, unfortunatelly far too many Democrats never met a campaign contribution they didn't like. The solution: publicly financed elections.

Brother Tim said...

Your insightful and wisdom-filled comments are making up for your lack of posting. :)

P.S. But don't push it too far. ;)

Randal Graves said...

Brother Tim about covers it. The Dems seem genetically predisposed to fear any kind of conflict. It's okay to fight back against lies and scare tactics, it really is. Sheesh.

Word verification: wingset. Noun, a group of wingnuts. ;-)

TomCat said...

I agree, Brother. When I visited him, I thought he had moved his blog. ;-)

LOL, Randal. Do they think they are still the minority?

libhom said...

You make an excellent point about HMO/insurance company death panels.

TomCat said...

Thanks libhom. You made an excellent point about Van Jones at your place. :-)