Howard Dean Sets Record Straight on Palin “death panels” Remark

Howard Dean speaking at DNC event
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Commenting on former-Gov. Sarah Palin’s recent creation of the term “death panels,” Gov. Howard Dean, former Chairman of the DNC published the following on his blog carried at

Former Governor Sarah Palin made some preposterous claims over the weekend which attracted mainstream media attention. She made up the term “death panel” and claimed that part of the health care reform bill now working it’s way through Congress required that families with children with disabilities, or elderly people who are infirm, could be judged by one of these death panels, which could control their fate and decide if they would die. GOP leadership repeated this outrageous claim across the airwaves on the Sunday morning talk shows. The mainstream media gave this claim credibility simply by repeating it.

My wife and I have practiced medicine for over forty years combined. There is no truth now, nor has there ever been any truth to the idea that the government encourages euthanasia or infanticide.

Our country is in trouble. Claims like these are routinely refuted by people who know better, but they are recirculated because they are sensational, and the MSM purports to take a balanced position without a thoughtful assessment of the facts. Fox News actually has people on in support of these outrageously false claims.

In fact, these kinds of claims are lies. There is no nice way to say it. This kind of stuff is far beyond the usual politicians’ tricks of shading words and imputing meanings that aren’t there. To quote a famous American who began the process of ending the McCarthy era in the fifties I address the MSM: “At long last, Have you no sense of decency?”

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Posted by on August 25, 2009 in Health Care Debate


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Health Care Myths Just Keep on Rollin’

Here is another example of how misunderstood or, more likely, misconstrued the details get in the debate over health care reform. In a post dated Wednesday, August 19, 2009 on a blog called, BLW wrote:

What is one thing sure to come from the government option, how about government employees, unionized government employees to be more exact. To give you some idea of what I’m talking about, the British National Health Administration is the worlds third largest employer, behind only the Communist Chinese Army and the Indian National Rail Road. We are just a hair bigger than Britain don’t you think? So how many new government employees do you think we will have? This is simply a way to feed the democratic/liberal cause with union members and the dues they pay. They will be depending on the government for their jobs. Bigger government just for you, don’t worry they can just raise taxes to pay for them. But don’t fret, the new government employees won’t have to endure the same health care as you as they will not be included in the new government option.

So, what’s wrong with that? Practically everything.

The British National Health Administration owns almost all of the hospitals, clinics, medical offices and diagnostic facilities. There are a very, very few private medical practices and facilities that cater to an extremely wealthy clientele that can pay totally out-of-pocket for what is typically called “Concierge” medical care.

What that means is that the entire British health care industry operates like the VA does. veterans go to a government-owned, VA operated facility and receive treatment from physicians who are either in the military, on payroll to the VA, or hired under a specific contract to work within a VA facility.

Anybody who thinks this is being proposed in the profferred legislation, or is even in the current discussion either doesn’t (or can’t) read, or is purposely distorting the facts.

Take out the administrators, doctors, nurses, nurses aides, lab technicians, radiology techs, cashiers, secretaries, cafeteria workers, supply personnel, janitors, maintenance staff and parking lot attendants and I bet the employee count in the British system would be quite small.

This is NUTS!!


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Posted by on August 19, 2009 in Uncategorized


Health Care Myths & Facts – part 2

Health Care Reality Check symbol

8 common myths about health insurance reform

Myth 1 Reform will create “rationing” which does not exist in the present system: It’s a myth that reform will mean a “government takeover” of health care or lead to “rationing.” To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.

Myth 2We can’t afford reform: It’s the status quo we can’t afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.

Myth 3Reform would encourage “euthanasia: It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.

Myth 4Vets’ health care is threatened: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans’ access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President’s budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.

Myth 5Reform will hurt  small business, and their employees: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

Myth 6Your Medicare is in jeapordy: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare “doughnut” hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.

Myth 7You must drop your current insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.

Myth 8The new plan authorizes the government to make withdrawals from your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

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Posted by on August 15, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Health Care Myths and Facts – part 1

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage

  1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won’t be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick
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Posted by on August 14, 2009 in Health Care Debate


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Sen. Grassley & Republicans Attack Hospice Care

In response to wild rumors of “death panels” and other distortions,  Republicans have forced a minor provision out of the proposed legislation to reform health care coverage in the U.S. That provision was designed to authorize payment for counseling services to help seriously ill and aged sort through questions that face them upon checking into a medical facility.

Sen. Charles Grassley

Sen. Charles Grassley

Anybody who has been hospitalized in the last four or five years has seen, among the pages of crap you have to sign, questions about “extraordinary medical procedures” and suggestions about a “living will.” These very terms can be confusing and scary for older folks (my mom is 98). If there is a knowledgeable family member on hand, whom the patient trusts, these are not a big problem. However, many of our seniors are alone when a medical emergency occurs. The nurses doing the admission don’t have the time, or the training, to go over all these issues and are cautioned against giving patients any advice.

The stricken provision was to authorize payment for counselors trained to explain these issues and to consult with the patient, and any available family members or significant others, on how to make and implement a decision.

Here is a direct quote from Sen. Grassley, appearing at a public gathering yesterday (August 11, 2009) in his home stae of Iowa:

There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-of-life,” Grassley said. “And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life. [emphasis added]

How does this impact hospice care, you ask? Well, a great deal of what hospice workers do is just this kind of counseling. They the terminally ill, and their loved ones, find a way to talk meaningfully and openly about difficult issues and arrive at a decision that everyone can accept.  Since this is a major component of their work, and the Repubs (led by Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and that guy shaking a finger in Sen. Arlen Specter‘s face) are martialed against it, one has to question how the hospice movement can effectively survive.

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Health Care Protesters

Town Hall meetings all over the country have devolved into shouting matches and mass demonstrations. This is a sad state of affairs in American politics. We are witnessing the intentional stifling of debate. The saddest part is, much of this activity is not a spontaneous expression of individual feelings but is being perpetrated as a strategic campaign coordinated and funded by lobbyists.


Senators and Congressmen are out on summer recess but finding their local district offices likewise besieged by shouting crowds, not always made of constituent voters. At best, this is interfering with the real exchange of ideas and opinions with our elected representatives. At worst, it will allow a very small minority to control an important legislative decision just by virtue of being loud and nasty. [Look at this guy shaking a finger in anger right in the face of Sen. Arlen Specter. His mama would not be proud!]

This is not the way America is supposed to work.

Another sinister effort at distorting the legislative debate came to light last week when it was discovered that a Conservative lobbying firm, Bonner Associates, had sent fake letters to members of Congress in opposition to legislation addressing energy and climate-change issues. Bonner was in the employ of coal industry interests, but forged the letters to make them appear to have originated from members and officials  of African-American and Latino-American groups. Fraud!

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Posted by on February 12, 2009 in Health Care Debate


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