Idiotic hysteria over so-called “death panels,” means that any proposed version of healthcare reform will not include plans to expand end-of-life counseling, to help the elderly make medical decisions.
We’re not sure if the counseling would’ve done any good or not, but it’s obvious what the real third rail in American politics is. It’s not Social Security; it’s the idea that seniors might face even a smidgen of medical rationing or curbs. Even talking about cost/benefit analysis is apparently too much to handle.
But reform without taking into account end-of-life costs is hardly reform at all, so that’s pretty much that.
Tyler Cowen perfectly anticipated the death panels craze, when he wrote last month:
If I were a progressive I would be wondering right now whether Medicare was a tactical mistake. The passage of Medicare meant that most old people get government-provided health care coverage. Yet the way to get things done in this country, politically, is to get old people behind them. Further health care reform doesn’t now seem to promise much to old people, except spending cuts on them. Given their limited time horizons, old people don’t so much value system-wide improvements, which invariably take some while to pay off.
If Medicare had not been passed, might this country have instituted universal health care coverage sometime in the 1970s?
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