In 2009, when then-President Barack Obama began laying out his healthcare policy, former candidate for Vice President Sarah Palin coined the term “death panel” to reflect the obvious consequence of involving government bureaucracy in medical decision making. She was – to one’s surprise – mercilessly hammered. Obama, a demagogue extraordinaire, even cited the charge as “demagogy against him,” right up there with the birther mythology.
The usual chicanery and deceit played out; while the Affordable Care Act did not explicitly include a panel of physicians or government lifers sitting down like a parole board to decide whether or not someone was free to go (or in this case, condemned to death), it was disingenuous to think that at some level the rationing of care and services would not occur. It reflects the basic law of supply and demand. The current media narrative is that hospitals are overwhelmed by patients infected with coronavirus; does rationing or prioritization not occur when beds are at capacity and the next would-be COVID patient is admitted, or in a worst-case scenario, turned away? In that scenario, there is no panel, per se, but someone is most decidedly choosing to provide or not provide essential care. One of the most crucial distinctions between private and public industries is the reflection of market demand. Private hospitals have essentially optimized the formula for room, equipment, and personnel needs based on years of tracking patterns of admittance for injury, disease, preventative treatment, and post-treatment care. They are also usually located in areas that presented with the possibility of financial gain, which is not a bad thing. (A separate conversation is the market force that compels skilled people to the profession in exchange for desirable monetary compensation.)
Public healthcare, on the other hand, exists in the same capacity regardless of exhibited needs or the cost to the individual patient. Democrats like to state that healthcare is a right, without calculating that the real rights of citizens, however harmful, is the decision to smoke, eat junk food, skip leg day, or otherwise engage in knowingly unhealthy and unsafe behaviors. In their theoretical utopia, every American proletariat should have the same access to the same care, paid for by the healthy. This is both exorbitantly expensive and entirely unresponsive to shifts in demand.
The best and most recent example of government death panels (i.e., decisions that result from forced rationing) is the announcement of how the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed. While the private industry created the serum, a government panel via the CDC called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) announced they will be recommending to CDC director Robert Redfield how the first 40 million doses should be administered. This recommendation will then be shared with individual state governors, who while not beholden to ACIP’s plan, usually abide by the developed protocols.
Phase 1A of the vaccine roll out intends to include healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Given that frontline workers are, to use the word appropriately and specifically, essential in the battle for lives, this isn’t an unreasonable proposition. At least, who could argue with the government’s decision? That’s kind of the point, though.
Residents in long-term facilities have been absolutely decimated throughout this ordeal. Andrew Cuomo should know. Less publicized, because he governs as a Democrat in flyover country, is that Tim Walz of Minnesota who has an appalling record of handling common sense issues. For the first six months of the outbreak, fully 80% of COVID deaths under his watch occurred in facilities designed to provide for the weakest and most vulnerable in the population. That figure has dipped to 72% recently, which is still nearly twice as high as the national average.
Phase 1B includes a group of 85 million Americans deemed essential workers. It goes without saying that the American proletariat still has never had a vote on what was considered essential. Government hacks made the list and decreed who has worth and who doesn’t in the Brave New World.
Noticeably absent on the initial roll out is scheduled vaccines for school-age children. With Democrat-funded doctors finally speaking truths that were mentioned as far back as May and June by the world’s most prestigious medical journals and in July by President Trump, schools in New York are even opening before the vaccines are awarded to comrades. Conveniently timed, like the announcement of the vaccine itself, which is to say after the election, children are now being recognized by the lying media as never having been prominently in danger. This has been known for eight months. It is fair to ask if kids would have been in session this whole time if Trump said schools should be closed.
At the end of the day, there are 350 million Americans, each of whom have varying health needs and indeed have varying perceptions on the risk of the coronavirus to themselves, the safety of the vaccine, and the desire to be inoculated by such a quickly developed injectable countermeasure. The reality is that for the 350 million Americans, only 40 million doses were able to be created in the first iteration of vaccine development. And to be sure, the preparation of “just” 40 million doses is not the issue. It is an amazing outcome and a credit to President Trump’s blitzkrieg against the disease.
Nevertheless, there should be an uneasiness with the way in which the vaccine was introduced to the community at large. While not everyone will want or need the vaccine, that decision has effectively been removed from them. The Titanic is sinking and the government agents on board queue up who gets a lifeboat and who remains locked below deck.
There are limits on what the private healthcare industry can offer. Hospitals can be maxed out with capacity, share one nurse or one doctor with several patients, and outcomes are not perfect. But to find fault with the private industry, which is often beholden to federally mandated insurance demands, is to miss the point of government rationing America’s medical needs.
In the government-run healthcare industry, there will be other decisions made that affect you and your family. This isn’t even speculation. Canada has a famously decrepit national system which both exacerbates wait time and regulates procedures based on criticality of need, expected benefits derived from it, and availability. Is it any wonder why elective knee and back surgeries can be scheduled in a week in the United States but are often denied by our neighbors to the north? The United Kingdom’s National Institute of Health was even called out by the New York Times in January of 2019 for cancelling all elective procedures and cramming an overflow of patients in non-private hallways due to excess demand for services.
There is no formalized death panel in the American healthcare system. There doesn’t need to be. It is not hard to see that committees like ACIP or the natural consequences of rationing life-saving services essentially render the argument moot. Your medical needs will not be attended to or will be less prioritized than someone else.
Grandma might have been the red herring during the coronavirus shaming, but she is certainly not of concern to Democrats under their new proposals. Unless she lives in a retirement home, it is hard to see how she would be deemed essential to anyone other than you.
By Parker Beauregard