I am reminded of Emily Litella when reading this article in the Washington Post on where the "Death Panels" rumor got started. For those living under a rock for the last month, this is the idea that health care proposals put forth by Democrats would establish death panels for rationing care to the elderly. Couple interesting points about the death panel phenomenon:
- The hospital in Wisconsin where all this started is actually seen as a leader in identifying ways for people to have a very specific say about their own end-of-life issues, INSTEAD of having other people decide for them when they are incapacitated. Kind of sounds like the opposite of death panels to me.
- Allowing healthy people to be more clear about their wishes also helps save money. According to the article, there's about $40 billion a year spent on Medicare services in the last month of the recipient's life. Apparently, letting people have directives about how much effort they want put in to their end-of-life experience results in lower costs. I thought the Republicans were for reduced spending?
- Finally, and most important, Sarah Palin was, as has been widely reported, the one who "raised the alarm" about the death panels. Seriously? We're taking our national health care advice from the woman who reads "... all [the newspapers] -- any of them that have been in front of me over the years" (as she told Katie Couric)
Palin-bashing aside (sorry, it's so easy), the point is that the death panel argument is one of the most aggregious examples of the Litella syndrome I've seen in the last 10 years. I call on all effective advocates to resist the urge to get all fired up about something they know nothing about -- and instead take some time to learn about the issues. THEN get fired up.