N.Y. Times columnist: Death panels will save ‘a lot of money’
Paul Krugman tells ‘Roundtable’ economists agree it’s ‘going to be major’
Posted: March 30, 2010
9:02 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily
The comments from Krugman, who also writes on the New York Times blogs, came during a discussion of “Obamacare” on the ABC News Sunday program “This Week.”
“People on the right, they’re simultaneously screaming, ‘They’re going to send all the old people to death panels,’ and ‘It’s not going to save any money,’” he said.
Another panelist interjected, “Death panels would save money,” to which Krugman responded:
The advisory panel which has the ability to make more or less binding judgments on saying this particular expensive treatment actually doesn’t do any good medically and so we are not going to pay for it. That is actually going to save quite a lot of money. We don’t know how much yet. The CBO gives it very little credit but, but most, most of the health care economists I talk to think that’s going be a really, uh a really major cost saving.
The video has been posted on the Conservatives4Palin website, and it was Palin who was among the first to denounce the “death panel” concept in the Democrats’ government-run health care plan. That’s the idea that appointed government officials who under the plan will have access to medical records will determine if a treatment will be provided to a needy patient. Theoretically, that could be a death sentence for a patient denied a treatment.
In the United Kingdom and other nations where such government procedures already are in place, the survival rates for such afflictions as breast cancer or prostate cancer are lower than in the U.S. Critics say it is partly because of denial or delay of treatment.
WND columnist Jane Chastain wrote about the issue shortly before the congressional vote.
“This bill sets up an Independent Medicare Advisory Board, which is to recommend cuts for the sole purpose of limiting the amount of resources going to Medicare patients. Some have called it a ‘Death Panel,’” she wrote.
“You may think this is harsh, but if this bill passes, many seniors will die prematurely because the recommendations of these unelected bureaucrats will go into effect. Congress is not required to act on them!”
“Obama … wants Granny to believe that she will be able to receive that operation or treatment that could save or extend her life. Nothing could be further from the truth! There is a reverse incentive in this bill that actually penalizes Granny’s primary-care physician if he or she is in the top 10 percent of doctors who refer patients to specialists. This puts a wedge between Granny and the doctor she trusts to act in her best interest.”
“The only question is whose” health care will be cut, Poe wrote. “The numbers make clear that most of these cuts will have to come at the expense of those who need health care the most – the elderly, the disabled and the gravely ill.”
He cited Obama’s acknowledgement that “older, sicker societies pay more on health care than younger, healthier ones.”
“He is right,” Poe wrote. “According to a 2006 study by the Department of Health and Human Services, five percent of the U.S. population accounts for nearly 50 percent of health care spending in America. Who are those five percent? Most are people over 65 years of age with serious, chronic illnesses.
“By contrast, the study notes, half of the U.S. population ‘spends little or nothing on health care… with annual medical spending below $664 per person.’ These, of course, are mostly healthy young people – people without serious, chronic illnesses,” Poe wrote.
“Obviously, Obama will not meet his cost-cutting targets by reducing care to healthy young people. They are already spending next to nothing. It is the old, the dying and the chronically ill whose health care he will cut. The numbers make this clear,” Poe said.
Some of the “old, the dying and the chronically ill” appear to be catching on. According to a report from Fox News, an estimated 60,000 members of AARP, which endorsed “Obamacare,” have turned in their cards and canceled their memberships in recent weeks.
“How will Obama cut costs? His June 13 radio speech gave some hints. Obama said his plan would provide ‘incentives’ to doctors to ‘avoid unnecessary hospital stays, treatments and tests that drive up costs,’” Poe wrote.
“And what sort of treatment does Obama consider ‘unnecessary?’ In an ABC News special June 24, he implied medical treatment might be wasted on elderly people with grave illnesses, citing his own grandmother as an example,” he said.
Obama concluded, “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”
Poe also documented how such health care limits already are being used overseas, including the U.K., where “British elders are routinely denied treatment for cancer, heart disease and other deadly illnesses.”
Further, “death” boards already are operating in Oregon, where officials with the state Health Plan agreed to refuse a patient life-extending cancer drugs but volunteered to pay for her to commit suicide.
He reported Barbara Wagner of Springfield, Ore., was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005. Chemotherapy and radiation put her cancer into remission. But the cancer returned in May 2008.
Wagner’s doctor prescribed Tarceva, a pill which slows cancer growth. There was a good chance it might extend her life by a few weeks or even months.
At age 64, Wagner had two sons, three daughters, 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Every moment she could spend with her loved ones was precious, he noted.
But Oregon’s health officials nixed the plan. Her Tarceva treatment would cost $4,000 per month. Wagner was going to die anyway, so why waste the money?
Wagner received a letter stating that the Oregon Health Plan would not approve any treatment for her “that is meant to prolong life, or change the course of the disease. …” However, if Wagner opted for physician-assisted suicide, Oregon would be happy to pick up the tab, said the letter.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon and costs only about $50.