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Cornell Law Professor: Palin is right about “Death Panels” for ObamaCare – UPDATED!

Posted by iusbvision on August 10, 2009

UPDATE III – Palin Responds to Obama on death Panels and backs up her statement LINK.

Washington Examiner Editorial Page Editor Mark Tapscott:

Sooner or later, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s critics are going to realize that, while her style of speaking drives them up the wall, they are spectacularly imprudent to assume she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Consider the reactions of two prominent law school professors to this statement posted by Palin on her Facebook page:

“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.”

Palin’s reference to Obama’s “death panel” inspired Prof. Harold Pollack to pen the following “have you no decency” witticism on The New Republic’s health care blog:

“To be clear, it is downright evil to establish a ‘death panel’ that decides who is allowed to live based on their “level of productivity in society.” Less clear is what the heck Palin or Bachmann are talking about. I can’t find the words “death panel” in any administration position paper, the stimulus package, or the House and Senate draft health reform bills. Don’t take my word for it. Read the bills.”

Of course, Pollack, who is a University of Chicago professor of social service administration, could as easily have said that there could not been any genocide in the Soviet Union, China or Cambodia because Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot never  used the term “death camp” in any official communication, either.

But another professor’s reaction to Palin’s statement demonstrates that Pollack’s snark was too cute by half. According to Cornell University law school’s William Jacobson, writing for the Legal Insurrection blog:

“The incoming fire has been withering, as usual. Palin is accused of becoming the ‘Zombie Queen,’ certifiably insane, ‘clinically wrong,’ and espousing a ‘gruesome mix of camp and high farce.’

“These critics, however, didn’t take the time to find out to what Palin was referring when she used the term ‘level of productivity in society’ as being the basis for determining access to medical care. If the critics, who hold themselves in the highest of intellectual esteem, had bothered to do something other than react, they would have realized that the approach to health care to which Palin was referring was none other than that espoused by key Obama health care adviser Dr. Ezekial Emanuel (brother of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).”

Prof. Jacobson explains that:

“The article in which Dr. Emanuel puts forth his approach is ‘Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions,’ published on January 31, 2009 …. While Emanuel does not use the term ‘death panel,’ Palin put that term in quotation marks to signify the concept of medical decisions based on the perceived societal worth of an individual, not literally a ‘death panel.’ And in so doing, Palin was true to Dr. Emanuel’s concept of a system which considers prognosis, since its aim is to achieve complete lives. A young person with a poor prognosis has had a few life-years but lacks the potential to live a complete life.

“‘Considering prognosis forestalls the concern the disproportionately large amounts of resources will be directed to young people with poor prognoses. When the worst-off can benefit only slightly while better-off people could benefit greatly, allocating to the better-off is often justifiable … When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.’

“Put together the concepts of prognosis and age, and Dr. Emanuel’s proposal reasonably could be construed as advocating the withholding of some level of medical treatment (probably not basic care, but likely expensive advanced care) to a baby born with Down Syndrome. You may not like this implication, but it is Dr. Emanuel’s implication not Palin’s.”

Put another, less charitable way than Professor Jacobson chose, the analyses of Palin critics would be more likely to be taken seriously if they displayed at least a modicum of intellectual honesty.

UPDATE – Michelle Malkin: Death panels? What death panels? Oh you mean THOSE death panels… LINK (Michelle is on a roll lately :-)

[Editor’s Note – The far left blogosphere and news are trying to defend Emmanuel’s statements and are trying to say anything to “refute” what is presented here by Gov. Palin and Prof. Jacobson.

The left has several factual problems that amount to arguing that the sky is not blue.

For starters, Obama says that old people should take the pill instead of have the surgery on the ABC News Special. Add to this that Cass Sunstien and John Holdren, two other presidential advisors are on the record and in writing about a policy that can fairly be described as a “death panel” type of rationing.

In essence, case that the far left is trying to make boiled down to this; by adding a trillion dollar bureaucracy between you and your doctor will save money…

1. And will save that money in spite of the fact that they say they will add 50 million people to the health care rolls,

2. And we will save money when another 83 million from people who’s employers will dump their insurance plan and move their employees to the public option,

3. And we wills till save money when we add all those with pre-existing conditions,

4. And we will save that money with that bureaucracy making absolutely NO rationing choices at all about the old or young, or limit your private health choices in any way (in spite of what is on page 16 LINK  1, 2, 3)  …. AND while making sure that wait times for care will not increase as in the cases of Canada and Britain.

5. And we will do it while not passing any meaningful tort (bogus lawsuit) reform.

Give me a break]

UPDATE II:  Newt Gingrich on why Palin is right about the “Death panels” Newt gives more details in his new column titled “Shut Up & Trust the Government”.

[Note from IUSB Vision Editor Chuck Norton – George Stephanapolous is correct that the words “death panel” are not in the bill, but Stephanapolous has been around a while and knows full well that he is being disingenuous. The bill sets up 45 bureaucracies that will judge whether you get treatment or not based on “communal standards” and cost benefit analysis that they have free reign to set up under whose value system?. What mathematical formula tells a bureaucrat to put a pacemaker in an 84 year old grandparent? How can you say that “death panels” aren’t a vitally descriptive term for what is going on when people who have advocated population control/euthanasia are so deeply involved in this process?

Who will be getting these bureaucracy jobs??… wonks, political appointees and cronies; groups of people who have an annoying habit of being frightening extreemists just like Cass Sunstien, Dr. Emmanuel and John Holdren who are all advising President Obama.

Why should 45 government bureaucracies be getting between you and your doctor anyways? Is anyone to believe that these bureaucrats and panels will just be handing out advice and nothing will be mandatory???….if so, what would they know that you and your doctor do not know about your treatment and how will all that bureaucracy make health care cheaper?]

2 Responses to “Cornell Law Professor: Palin is right about “Death Panels” for ObamaCare – UPDATED!”

  1. John said

    Jacobson’s defense of Palin was as incorrect. I could take Jacobson’s “intellectual honesty” seriously if he had criticized Palin for her egregious overstatements instead of putting forth very anemic defenses of her remarks. Jacobson is an ideologue that offers very little the discussion of health care. He accuses Palin critics of not finding “out to what Palin was referring.” That may be true but it is also clear that both Palin and Jacobson were not familiar with Dr. Emanuel’s paper and possibly even the current health care proposals.

    My complete response to Professor Jacobson ill defense of Palin is here http://theobservedblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/newest-member-of-truths-death-panel.html.

    [With all due respect, what you are presenting here is an attitude, not an argument…eg Palin is this, Jacobson is that etc.

    What is left of your “argument” isn’t going far because Obama said that old people should take the pill instead of have the surgery on the ABC News Special. Add to this that Cass Sunstien and John Holdren, two presidential advisors are on the record and in writing about a policy that can fairly be described as a “death panel” type of rationing and your argument holds little weight.

    In essence, the argument of the left in the last few days is that adding a trillion dollar bureaucracy between you and your doctor will save money, and will save that money in spite of the fact that they say they will add 50 million people to the health care rolls, add another 83 million from people who’s employers will dump their insurance plan and move their employees to the public option, add all those with pre-existing conditions, and have us believe that not only will that save money, but it will do so with that bureaucracy making absolutely NO rationing choices at all about the old or young.

    Give me a break. – Editor]

  2. […] Cornell Law Professor: Palin is right about “Death Panels” for ObamaCare – LINK. […]

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