This is the real story of Sarah Palin’s death panels; the death panels she doesn’t want anyone to know about because these death panels are real, they did kill people, and she was in charge of them as the executive of her state – in fact, these death panels did exactly what she accused Obama’s healthcare reform of doing. They killed disabled and elderly people who were waiting to be determined worthy of care.
Conservatives’ healthcare repeal efforts were predictably shut down by the Senate yesterday, so James Taranto wasted his column in the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal yesterday defending Palin’s Death Panel lie. He claims she was speaking figuratively but of course, this makes her lie no less of a lie. But his anxious defense of Palin’s lie reminded me of a story that no one told in 2009, just weeks before Palin announced she “wouldn’t be running again” (aka, “quitting two years early”).
Oh, irony, thy name is Sarah Palin.
Let’s go back in time to 2009, when Palin unveiled her Death Panels lie. She said, “To me, while reading that section of the bill, it became so evident that there would be a panel of bureaucrats who would decide on levels of health care, decide on those who are worthy or not worthy of receiving some government-controlled coverage. Since health care would have to be rationed if it were promised to everyone, it would therefore lead to harm for many individuals not able to receive the government care. That leads, of course, to death.”
It sure did in Alaska.
On June 26 , 2009, – just weeks before the breathy quitty speech along side the squawking fowl, federal auditors notified Alaska officials that they were suspending new enrollment into the Alaskan Medicaid health program for the poor and the disabled due to gross mismanagement by the state.
Leading up to this unprecedented shut down of a state managed program (which was funded 61% by the “feds”) over 250 people died waiting for assessment. Hundreds more did not receive treatment. Over eight lawsuits were filed against the state division before the shut-down. The Supreme court ruled that the state had improperly cut off or reduced services to more than 1,000 needy people. An additional 2,000 people were still waiting to be assessed at the time of the shut-down.
Sarah Palin’s Death Panels aren’t figurative. They are literal and they did kill people. People died waiting to be assessed regarding whether or not they were “worthy” of care. They were entitled to this care under the law but it was denied to them.
In fact, this problem is attributed to the “state’s” decision to hire their own nurses to assess people. That sure sounds like big government death panel deciding who gets care and who doesn’t, and apparently under Palin the state decided thousands didn’t deserve care for some reason and were not worthy of time-sensitive treatment and assessment, which led to death in hundreds of cases.
The ADN reported:
“Doctors and other health care providers wrote to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid with concerns that the state wasn’t responsive. Some alleged that the lack of state controls “has resulted in the death(s) of the active clients,” the federal review said.
While the people served are frail and suffer from chronic health issues, the state never investigated to determine if any failure in service contributed to the deaths, the federal review found.
“Thus, if someone passed away because a (personal care assistant) did not show up, for example, there was no indication this would have been reported or investigated,” the report said.”
Perhaps it wasn’t that the Death Panels determined these people were “unworthy” of care, but simply that they never got around to even qualifying them as worthy. However, the end result is the same. It certainly would feel to the individuals and their families as if they had been deemed unworthy of care, their concerns and needs being ignored by the very people who were supposed to help them — the very people taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to care for them. If this happened to Sarah Palin’s family, we would have heard that the state deemed her child as unworthy of care.
Of course, it wouldn’t happen to Sarah Palin because she has the power to demand assistance. But people without that power were ignored and many of them lost their lives or the lives of a beloved family member. Federally funded programs for the vulnerable are supposed to address this gap in power, give a voice to those in need, but when the people in power refuse to govern, the gap widens and people can fall through the Death Panel crack. They weren’t important enough to Palin’s administration to take notice of the problem and solve it. The poor, the elderly and the disabled were left to die.
Let’s remind ourselves of how Palin drove her lie home with visceral emotion, as conservatives do so well. Palin used her Downs Syndrome afflicted son Trig as an example of someone who would die under Obama’s “Death Panels” because he would be deemed unproductive. And yet, it was under Palin’s state run program that disabled people were left to die. Did she deem them “unproductive” or was she simply incompetent?
Sarah Palin and her conservative defenders want so desperately to pin the “Death Panel” moniker on the President’s healthcare reform bill because they are strategically accusing their opponent first of the wrongs they have committed, hoping to wear the subject out in the public’s mind before the truth comes to light. By the time the accusations against them come out, the public has dismissed the now debunked idea of “death panels” and they are off the hook.
It would behoove the media to ask a very salient question when someone like Palin makes an accusation, and that question should be, “Is this accusation really a confession?” Palin’s “Death Panels” lie took place just weeks after she had been notified of the federally mandated shut-down in her own state, along with the lawsuits filed against her administration. She quit the office she swore to serve within weeks of this notice.
And yet, we’ve had a year and a half of defending President Obama’s healthcare reform bill against her accusation and no one has picked up on the story that she is guilty of the very thing she is lying about. People died waiting for care under her administration. It’s unconscionable that she would then use her own guilt to smear healthcare reform. In fact, her own guilt makes healthcare reform even more necessary. Obviously, if we leave these matters up to Republicans who pretend to be anti-federal money but are happy to take it while mismanaging it, we are doomed for failure.
I don’t mean to suggest that no Democrat has ever mismanaged funds; but rather that it is a systemic problem within the modern day Republican party to decry big government while taking the largest amounts of federal money and then misusing the funds because they don’t believe in big government. Think Katrina. This kind of mismanagement is indicative of the on-going, inherent flaw in Republican’s belief that big government doesn’t work. They are so married to this notion that they seem to go out of their way to prove it true by mismanaging federal money and programs.
There is a reason why some matters should be regulated by the federal government. That “big government” meme that’s meant to spark the cowboy in Americans is yet another misnomer. Our government is supposed to offer us some measure of safety and protection. Sometimes we need that protection from our own elected officials, who may be so inept and incompetent that they require the federal government to shut down their state-managed programs.
Sarah Palin’s administration is guilty of Death Panels in Alaska. The guile of her Death Panel lie and the zealousness with which she invoked it and refuses to let go flies in the face of the national narrative that Palin is a joke and a stupid person.
It takes a certain kind of animal instinct and cunning to get away with a lie of this magnitude and to manage the media to such an extent that a year and half later, the media has never uttered a word about her own Death Panels. Sarah Palin knows a lot about Death Panels, because the truth is that the only executive of a state who allowed disabled and elderly people to die waiting for assessment is Sarah Palin herself.