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When Roger West first launched the progressive political blog "News From The Other Side" in May 2010, he could hardly have predicted the impact that his venture would have on the media and political debate. As the New Media emerged as a counterbalance to established media sources, Roger wrote his copious blogs about national politics, the tea party movement, mid-term elections, and the failings of the radical right to the vanguard of the New Media movement. Roger West's efforts as a leading blogger have tremendous reach. NFTOS has led the effort to bring accountability to mainstream media sources such as FOX NEWS, Breitbart's "Big Journalism. Roger's breadth of experience, engaging style, and cultivation of loyal readership - over 92 million visitors - give him unique insight into the past, present, and future of the New Media and political rhetoric that exists in our society today. What we are against: Radical Right Wing Agendas Incompetent Establishment Donald J. Trump Corporate Malfeasence We are for: Global and Econmoic Security Social and Economic Justice Media Accountability THE RESISTANCE

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sarah Palin's "Death Panels"

Like many disagreements in the digital age, it all started with a post on Facebook. Last year, former part time Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a note to her Facebook page and introduced a new term to the health care debate:

Palin, Aug. 7: The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care.

Unsurprisingly, the phrase "death panel" does not appear in the health care bill that passed congress. And Palin’s post did not make it entirely clear what she might interpret as a "death panel." Nonetheless, the phrase stuck. It skyrocketed up the Google search index and was quoted by George Stephanopoulos while interviewing former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on ABC News’ "This Week." Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa made similar claims while speaking out against "a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma”.

President Obama addressed these concerns about death panels and unplugged grandmothers during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire in 2009. He said:

Obama, Aug. 11: The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for "death panels" that will basically pull the plug on grandma … this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, et cetera. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready, on their own terms. It wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything. This is I guess where the rumor came from.

Obama is referring to Section 1233 of H.R. 3200, which is titled “Advance Care Planning Consultation.” As we explained a few weeks ago, it "would require Medicare to pay for some end-of-life planning counseling sessions with a health care practitioner." Our previous article was a response to the false claim that the health care bill would require forced counseling to push euthanasia. And it’s this provision on end-of-life counseling that’s the primary basis for Palin’s remarks.

On Aug. 12, Palin attempted to clear up her argument with a detailed Facebook post. She discussed Section 1233 and said that "it’s misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients." Palin goes onto argue:

Palin, Aug. 12: The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context. … These consultations are authorized whenever a Medicare recipient’s health changes significantly or when they enter a nursing home, and they are part of a bill whose stated purpose is “to reduce the growth in health care spending.” Is it any wonder that senior citizens might view such consultations as attempts to convince them to help reduce health care costs by accepting minimal end-of-life care?

The fact remains that the bill doesn't require patients to receive counseling sessions, nor would it require a doctor to offer one. Rather, it modifies Section 1861(s)2 of the Social Security Act, defining what services Medicare will pay for. So if a patient receives a counseling session from a doctor or health care practitioner, he or she doesn’t have to pay for it – Medicare will. As we pointed out previously, Medicare will also pay for prosthetic limbs, but that doesn’t mean that every recipient gets those, too.

And the concern that these sessions are "part of a bill whose stated purpose is ‘to reduce the growth in health care spending,’ " while true, is hardly the whole story. One of the bill’s other goals is to "provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans." The legislation is 1,017 pages long with sections that cut costs, some that increase care, and some that do both. In fact, the counseling sessions would add to government expenses since Medicare would have to reimburse doctors. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates officially that Section 1233 will cost a net total of $2.7 billion over 10 years.

Furthermore, proposals to offer reimbursement for such counseling have attracted bipartisan support. Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, a sponsor of one such measure, gave an interview to the Washington Post in August 2010, in which he discussed the benefits of these counseling sessions "both for the sanity of the family and what savings the family has." Isakson also commented on the recent confusion around the issue:

Isakson, Aug. 10: I just had a phone call where someone said Saranoya Palin’s web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is either a lunatic or idiot, but hey we are talking about snowbillie central here. You’re putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don’t know how that got so mixed up.

Palin also attempts to buttress her case by quoting some writings by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy adviser to the president. Here she’s echoing claims made elsewhere, twisting the meaning of Emanuel’s writings and taking them out of context.

Finally, for those who are inclined to get their information from Facebook postings, may we suggest NFTOS' (News From The Other Side) own blog page?

Since when does a political candidate use social platforms for their voice. What happened to standing at a podium or town hall meetings?

The above facts shows us clearly how its just not only the part time Governor, but Republicans as a whole whom get their facts slighted, or in this case, are just plain wrong.

As Palin basks in both the cash of, and the love from the Tea Party, a new Washington Post poll reveals that her political popularity among the nation as a whole has never been lower. Conservative Republicans give her a 71% approval rating and tea partiers put her at 60%, but the nation as a whole gives her only a 37% approval rating, and a 55% disapproval rating.

The most striking number from the Washington Post poll is that only 17% of all Americans surveyed said that they held a strongly favorable view of the former Alaska governor. Surprise!

It appears that the "polarization" of Saranhoya is wearing off. Thank God!

The half  term governor of Alaska is a niche brand whose appeal is limited to extreme misguided Republicans. It would be a disaster for the Republican Party if Sarah Palin was their presidential nominee in 2012. A Palin nomination would virtually ensure not only an Obama reelection, but also an expansion of the Democratic majorities in Congress. Never in modern American electoral history has there been a less popular politician as seriously discussed as a presidential candidate. Palin may have no chance of winning but that might not stop the GOP from nominating her.