Thursday, September 24, 2009

Death Panels? Puh-leeze!

In a great post on The Health Care Blog
Bob Wachter goes macro-politico with a title that sums it up all too chillingly: "Death Panels, Palliative Care, and the Dangers of Modern McCarthyism," and my spleen gets the best of me...

The health care reform debate has been turned into a fetid dumping ground not just for right-wing fanatics and the disgruntled fools who follow them, but for the sprawling, unconscious anxieties of people who know nothing about medicine or how health care financing and delivery really works. Death panels? Puh-leeze!

Aside from those transparently on the anti-Obama warpath, what is really driving the hysteria about the belated modernization of reimbursement for end-of-life care is nothing more complicated than fear: an unalloyed fear of death, a primordial revulsion at the gruesome reality that awaits all of us sooner or later and, more broadly, the infantile fear we all have regarding the loss of control of our bodies, minds, and lives.

Unfortunately, it's far easier to rage against government (or against health plans, or drug companies, if you're left-wing and equally unconscious) than it is to rage against mortality, or God's silence, or one's self for decades of smoking, eating garbage, and exercising nothing more than one's mouth. The "death panel" nutjobs seem to be laboring under the weird self-delusion that their categorical tirades against "government health care" might somehow mitigate the hardest fact of life, i.e., that life ends, no matter who we vote for, or what nonsense we choose to believe about health care and government's role in the system.

The government may or may not be able to fix a broken health insurance market with regulation even the health insurers now acknowledge is necessary. But in the end, government no matter how large, small or non-existent, will not be able to bail us out of the saddest fact of life. Instead of muddying up the reform debate, these folks need to grow up, see a therapist, take a philosophy course, or actually read their Bibles...

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