Two years ago, Sarah Palin tried to convince us that a provision in the Affordable Care Act was effectively a “death panel.”
The provision actually allowed physicians to bill Medicare for time spent talking to patients about an end-of-life plan, something every adult should have. But they managed to get the provision rescinded from the law with the fear they induced with the death panel lie.
Now more people will become ill without a plan and no one will know whether they want expensive and ineffective treatment at the end of their lives.
Making out a living will is an important thing to do, but doctors won’t be paid for their time trying to get patients to think about end-of-life care, which by the way is the most expensive care most of us receive in our lifetimes.
Now opponents of health reform are at it again, calling the group that will assess the effectiveness of treatments a “death panel.”
This group, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, is meant to help control costs, but NOT by deciding who gets care. The board will review treatments to see whether they are effective. For example, if you’re taking an expensive name-brand drug and a generic that is chemically the same as what you’re taking is available at far less cost, the board might recommend use of the generic in most situations.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that since the board will look at a wide range of treatments in a search for best practices — that is, the treatments that work the best the highest percentage of the time, and whether a less expensive practice is equally as effective as a more expensive one.
This group will NOT evaluate whether you contribute enough to society to warrant treatment or whether you’re too old for treatment. In fact, the law specifically prohibits such things.
Finding the most effective way to treat illnesses is a cost-cutter because people won’t be subjected to treatments that don’t work. They won’t be given a more expensive drug if a cheaper one will work, or undergo surgery if physical therapy works as effectively.
This does not stifle innovation because as new treatments come along, they’re tested for efficacy. What business wouldn’t want to have the best practice?
So, once again, we have to fight the lies put out there by the opponents of reform.
Let me repeat: There are no death panels in the new law. If someone says there is one, it is a lie.