Health care myths

I plan on doing a much more comprehensive post on the health care legislation being proposed (and hopefully implemented!), but, as I am extremely busy this week, this AP article will have to suffice. It covers many of the bogus arguments being made against President Obama’s health care proposals. Like the global warming issue, there are so many outlandish statements being made that the truth gets completely obscured and everyone ends up arguing points that have no basis in the real world. This effectively shifts the “middle ground” (where both sides of an issue can be reasonably debated) into complete cuckoo territory. Proponents of health care are forced to keep clearing the air from the stink of questions that have no good reason (no reason based in reality, at least) to be asked in the first place, thus eating up time that could be spent discussing the real issues. In other words, keeping proponents constantly fighting strawmen off in lala land keeps the debate from ever the entering the real world. This is exactly the place where opponents of reform on both issues (health care & climate change) want it to be, because in the real world, the facts simply don’t back them up.

It doesn’t help that in this country, people take retarded drivel like this seriously:

The ol’ blubbering patriot here is referring to Sarah Palin’s completely fabricated “death panels“. Ironic that he warns of the dangers of putting a dollar value on human life while defending the insurance industry. Hoo boy.

Anyway, here’s that AP story…

FACT CHECK: No ‘death panel’ in health care bill

WASHINGTON – Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says the health care overhaul bill would set up a “death panel.” Federal bureaucrats would play God, ruling on whether ailing seniors are worth enough to society to deserve life-sustaining medical care. Palin and other critics are wrong.

Nothing in the legislation would carry out such a bleak vision. The provision that has caused the uproar would instead authorize Medicare to pay doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care, if the patient wishes. Here are some questions and answers on the controversy:

Q: Does the health care legislation bill promote “mercy killing,” or euthanasia?

A: No.

Q: Then what’s all the fuss about?

A: A provision in the House bill written by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would allow Medicare to pay doctors for voluntary counseling sessions that address end-of-life issues. The conversations between doctor and patient would include living wills, making a close relative or a trusted friend your health care proxy, learning about hospice as an option for the terminally ill, and information about pain medications for people suffering chronic discomfort. The sessions would be covered every five years, more frequently if someone is gravely ill.

Q: Is anything required?

Monsignor Charles Fahey, 76, a Catholic priest who is chairman of the board of the National Council on Aging, a nonprofit service and advocacy group, says no.

“We have to make decisions that are deliberative about our health care at every moment,” Fahey said. “What I have said is that if I cannot say another prayer, if I cannot give or get another hug, and if I cannot have another martini — then let me go.”

Q: Does the bill advocate assisted suicide?

A: No. It would block funds for counseling that presents suicide or assisted suicide as an option.

Q: Who supports the provision?

A: The American Medical Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Consumers Union are among the groups supporting the provision. AARP, the seniors’ lobby, is taking out print advertisements this week that label as false the claim that the legislation will empower the government to take over life-and-death decisions from individuals.

Q: Should the federal government be getting involved with living wills and end-of-life questions — decisions that are highly personal and really difficult?

A: It already is.

The government requires hospitals to ask adult patients if they have a living will, or “advance directive.” If the patient doesn’t have one, and wants one, the hospital has to provide assistance. The mandate on hospitals was instituted during a Republican administration, in 1992, under President George H.W. Bush.

Q: How does a living will work, and how is it different from a health care proxy?

A: A living will — also called an advance directive — spells out a patient’s wishes if he or she becomes incapacitated. Often people say they don’t want to be kept alive on breathing machines if their condition is terminal and irreversible.

A health care proxy empowers another person to make medical decisions should the patient become incapacitated.

There’s also a power-of-attorney, which authorizes another person to make financial decisions for someone who is incapacitated.

Such legal documents have become standard estate-planning tools in the last twenty years.

Q: Would the health overhaul legislation change the way people now deal with making end-of-life decisions?

A: It very well could.

Supporters of the provision say the main consequence would be to formally bring doctors into a discussion that now takes place mainly among family members and lawyers.

“When you execute a legal document with your lawyer, it ends up in your files and in the lawyer’s files,” said John Rother, a senior policy and strategy adviser for AARP. “Unless the doctor is part of this discussion, it’s unlikely that your wishes will be respected. The doctor will be the one involved in any decisions.” The American Medical Association says involving doctors is simple common sense.

“There has been a lot of misinformation about the advance care planning provisions in the bill,” AMA President Dr. James Rohack said in a statement. “It’s plain, old-fashioned medical care.”

Q: So why are some people upset?

Some social conservatives say stronger language is needed to protect seniors from being pressured into signing away their rights to medical treatment in a moment of depression or despair.

The National Right to Life Committee opposes the provision as written.

“I’m not aware of ‘death panels’ in the bill,” said David O’Steen, executive director of the group. “I’m not aware of anything that says you will be hauled before a government bureaucrat. But we are concerned … it doesn’t take a lot to push a vulnerable person — perhaps unwittingly — to give up their right to life-sustaining treatment.” The White House says it is countering false claims with a “reality check” page on its Web site, http://www.whitehouse.gov.

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2 Responses to Health care myths

  1. william farrell says:

    hey stupid, there is no proof that man made global warming is caused by any man made process. you’re an idiot, and are the perfect example why many people do not trust the current president. global warming? google “bob carter- bushvision.” what ‘s going on today for temperature change is not surprising, unusual, or scary. for believing that, you’re a fool. for believing that, obama is a fool. the same with his health care proposal. he’s a fool- our government does not run anything efficiently- obama’s claiming so, simply means he mouthed some words- it doesn’t mean it’s a factual statement. in addition, he is proposing health care rationig- you’re just too stupid to see the end results of obama’s proposal. you limit a choice of healthcare and you have by your own words created rationing. lie all you want, i believe the american people are starting to understand just how much of a word parser this president really is. he’s a serial liar and he should not be trusted.

  2. itonlyhurtswhenithink says:

    Haha. Wow. Okay, crackpot. Let’s see, where do we start?

    Health care:

    We already have rationed care. It’s called, “You can’t afford insurance coverage, you stay sick”. It also goes by the name of, “This pre-existing condition makes you ineligible for care”. By the way, please enlighten me on the multitude of “choices” the current system provides us with. Take the health coverage provided (if you’re lucky) by your employer or… what exactly? Buy your own? Checked prices on private health insurance recently?

    Also, it seems that you are referring to a single payer system, which is (unfortunately) not even being considered right now. The public option currently being considered is simply a way to negotiate for lower prices from insurance companies, and provide care to the people that want coverage and can’t afford it. It falls far short of the “socialized” care of the rest of the industrialized world. It’s sad that the merits of a single payer system cannot even be discussed – mainly because of the inevitable bleating of fearful ignoramuses like yourself.

    If you do want to talk about a single payer system, such a system would open up many more choices for the average person, as any care provider (not simply the one affiliated with a person’s employer) would be an option. The rationing that you seem to be referring to – where the plug gets pulled on grandma or poor crippled Tiny Tim – is pure fiction. Insurance companies are far and away more restrictive of who they will “ration” care to than any western government offering health care these days. You seem to be under the strange impression that there will suddenly be a shortage of health care providers (hospitals, private practice doctors, etc.). All that would really be eliminated would be the middle men: the insurance industry. Do I want to have “a bureaucrat standing between me and my doctor”? If the choice is between a person I can choose to vote for or some sleazeball making money off denying me care (whom I am completely powerless to do anything about), the answer is a resounding: YOU BET YOUR FRIGGIN’ ASS.

    Global warming:

    Have I heard of marine geologist Robert Carter, member of the Exxon-funded right wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs? Why yes, I have. The man uses some tricky graphs and some less than honest reasoning to justify his erroneous conclusions. If you’d like to learn a little bit about the El Nino effect that he has misrepresented as a reason to doubt global warning, please visit these sites:

    http://www.logicalscience.com/skeptics/bobcarter.html

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2008/11/23/what-bob-carter-and-andrew-bolt-fail-to-grasp/

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/07/how_to_talk_to_a_sceptic.php

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/01/uncertainty-noise-and-the-art-of-model-data-comparison/

    and read these peer reviewed articles:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14527-climate-myths-global-warming-stopped-in-1998.html?full=true

    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/26/10768

    There are literally hundreds more examples of solid evidence that disputes Carter’s claims (and hundreds upon hundreds more in support of the theory of anthropogenic global warming) but – as I assume you are not a big reader – I kept the list short. Investigate on your own, and you will see, I assure you.

    Talk of climate change didn’t begin with Obama, by any means, dimwit. This has been a topic of concern to scientists for at least the last thirty years. It seems like many out there think that an Al Gore powerpoint is the sum of evidence for global warming. Anthropogenic global warming is very well established by this point. Jesus, a high school understanding of chemistry will tell you that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation (and not living in a cave all your life should have clued you in on the fact that CO2 production has increased dramatically since the industrial revolution). Is it really such a far-fetched idea? Sheesh. How about this: is it a more far-fetched idea than thinking that there’s a global climate cabal determined to sucker us all?

    What Carter and others with a vested financial interest in denying climate change have done is very similar to the tactics used by creationists and other crackpots: seeing that their ideas will get no traction in the scientific community (where positive evidence of a claim is required to gain validity), they take their claims straight to the under(or mis)informed general public. Media plays right into this, giving equal weight to both sides of the argument, even though one side has a massive amount of evidence it has accumulated over several decades of careful investigation and the other side has… some guy’s opinion and a few misleading graphs.

    The problem you seem to have is an inability to discern good information from bad. It is dangerous to only search out information that confirms what you already believe. Rational decision-making requires assessing all available data to the best of your ability and letting the chips fall where they may. Opinion – be it political or religious or social indoctrination – needs to conform to the real world, not the other way around. Reality isn’t going to change, no matter what political affiliation you hold. It is unfortunate that health care and global warming have become to be seen as left/right issues. Obviously, when one party represents public solutions and the other represents the business community, these things become nearly unavoidable. Still… there is objective reality, and as much as it may hurt our pocketbooks to deal with these issues, they do have to be dealt with. It’s a testament to the complete dearth of ideas from the free market crowd that they have resorted mainly to denial and fearmongering on both issues instead of offering workable solutions.

    You have a better solution to heath care? You have a better explanation for why the world is heating up? Let’s hear your ideas.

    I won’t hold my breath.

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