Home > Death panels, Health Care, Joe Conason, Salon > Joe Conason vs. Joe Conason: “death panels” a GOP “distraction,” but in the end he admits the GOP is right

Joe Conason vs. Joe Conason: “death panels” a GOP “distraction,” but in the end he admits the GOP is right

Salon‘s Joe Conason says the GOP’s “fundamental strategy” during the health-care debate has been, “From the beginning, subtraction by distraction — whether framed as ‘death panels’ or ‘backroom deals.'” The best part of that line — even better than the clever “subtraction by distraction” — is the quotation marks around backroom deals, as if, you know, they weren’t really backroom deals; that’s just what Republicans are calling them. Crimony. If meeting in secret with Sen. Nelson until you come out with a deal that benefits only his state — paid for by taxpayers in the other 49 — is not a backroom deal, then, Mr. Conason, what, in your book, is enough of a backroom deal to merit dropping the sarcastic or mocking quotation marks?

And finally, the “death panels.” Again, those quotation marks. Death panels don’t exist, apparently, if the sarcastic/mocking punctuation is to be believed — except wait a minute, just long enough for Mr. Conason to sorta reverse himself:

The proper reply to “death panels” was that they already exist in the corporate bureaucracy of the insurance companies — and in the lobbying firms where reform that would save tens of thousands of lives annually has been killed every time.

I love this response. Democrats say care is denied too often to too many people, and when we respond that their solution will also mean denied care, they respond that health care is already rationed in today’s system. That’s what you call a dog chasing his tail. And now when you say their solution will create a death panel, the response is that that death panels already exist. Ergo, the Democratic solution to two problems of today’ system is to make them a part of the the system they propose. Wait. What?

Their illogic aside, let’s get something straight: death panels do not — I repeat, do not — already exist in the corporate bureaucracy of the insurance companies. Here’s why: there’s a huge difference between, on the one hand, a government “death panel” in a single-payer, universal-care system like Medicare — a system in which you literally have no other health-care options — in which you’re told by a “death panel” that you cannot obtain a procedure or medication and, on the other hand, an insurance company’s corporate bureaucracy telling you it’s not going to pay for a procedure or medication that you’re still free to get by paying for it yourself.

Sure, it’s awful to be told that a policy you’ve been paying into for who knows how long won’t cover a procedure, but the fact remains that today you’re free to explore other financing options. In a system run by the government, you’re not; if the bureaucrat at the federal call center in Washington says it won’t pay for a procedure, they’re not saying you can pay for it yourself. They’re saying you can’t have the procedure done. Period. That, my friend, is a death panel. And yes, this scenario rightly scares people — that kind of “””death panel””” (I’ll be bested by no man at sarcastic quotatering!) should scare people.

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