Death Panels

The Queensland government's Adult Guardian decided to cut off aid to a woman with cancer who was deemed unlikely to survive. Sounds like a "death panel"* to me, something the public healthcare supporters in the US claim do not exist in Australia and other countries with public healthcare.

I don't want to discuss the merits of this decision (I'm hardly qualified to make a judgement on that even if I did know all the facts), but rather I wish to point out that such decisions must be made in any healthcare system. In a user pays system the decision ultimately rests with the user themselves, while in a government run system the government must appoint a body or an individual to make these decisions. (In an insurance driven system such as in the US the conditions on when to make such decisions are established as part of the insurance contract)

Such decisions must be made because "the best healthcare money can buy" would cost the entire economic output of a nation to pay for. No matter how much you do there is always something more that could be done to improve the odds of survival or the comfort of the patient some small amount. As a result there must by rationing, which is where this and similar treat-or-not decisions come in. Someone has to make the decision, and such decisions must take into account budget limitations, or they will simply over-spend now and lack resources for future situations.

In any publish healthcare system people will die as the result of a government employee's decision to limit their treatment (either by cutting it off entirely, or restricting it to only certain procedures). Anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant or lying to you (and perhaps to themself). (Note that in an insurance based system like in the US such decisions are still made, the difference being that the conditions for the decision are set as part of a contract rather than either via law or simple ad-hoc)

The fact that so many supporters of public healthcare regularly claim that such things do not happen tells me that they are either liars, or that they don't even realise that such decisions are a necessary evil, which means that they are not even close to qualified to design or run any sort of healthcare system.

Of course none of this gives a pass to the people who deliberately use a very emotionally loaded phrase ("death panels") rather than a simpler, less emotionally charged term, but when it comes to people who use emotionally manipulative phrases versus people who are blatantly lying to you; the ones that are actually telling the the truth come off as a little more trustworthy.

*. "Death panels" is a rather emotionally manipulative name for such things (Adult Guardian is just as bad in the opposite directions though), a better term would be something like "Treatment Decision Panel".

Categories: Politics, Socialism
Date: 2011-04-10 23:03:53, 13 years and 99 days ago

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