As recently as April, it seemed the entire, ridiculous fight over “death panels” had come full circle. What had started as a sensible Republican idea about advance directives and living wills transformed into right-wing hysteria, but was now back again – Jeb Bush told a New Hampshire audience he likes the idea of a government mandate on advance directives.
The position actually put Bush slightly to the left of President Obama, and it seemed to bury the “death panels” garbage once and for all.
Or maybe that was wishful thinking.
Just last week, after the Supreme Court upheld tax subsidies for consumers’ insurance, Fox’s Sean Hannity told his audience, “You’re screwed … death panels will exist.”
A day later, as BuzzFeed reported, a member of Congress pushed a very similar line.
Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama, says people who contract expensive-to-treat illnesses are going to die under Obamacare. […]Brooks said “ultimately, you’re looking at a lesser quality of care – health care.” He added that the 15-person board of health-care experts created under the law to control costs – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) – is making decisions about “whether a group of people live or die.”
In case anyone’s forgotten, in reality, the Independent Payment Advisory Board is most certainly not making decisions about whether a group of people live or die. That’s just bonkers.
But Brooks just kept going (and going), insisting that ailing patients are “going to be denied coverage” under the American system.
The far-right congressman added, “Now, Obamacare and government-run health care systems generally, they’re good for the routine stuff. You got strep throat? Great. They’ll address it. You got a broken leg? Uh, they’ll mend it, okay. For the routine things. But the kinds of illnesses that threaten to kill people, that are expensive to treat, that’s where they’re gonna tell you to get your affairs in order because they’re not gonna provide coverage and you’re gonna die.”
In case anyone’s curious, none of this resembles reality in any way. It’s plainly, demonstrably ridiculous. The Affordable Care Act is not “government-run health care,” and the notion that the ACA denies medical care to people with serious illnesses is outrageously untrue.
But consider the broader context for a moment. A certain former half-term Alaska governor popularized this ridiculous lie in August 2009. That was nearly six years ago.
By August 2013, Palin, the editors of The Hill, and the RNC’s Reince Priebus were still repeating this nonsense as if it hadn’t been debunked years earlier.
And now in the summer of 2015, we’re still confronted with the same mind-numbing rubbish.
There’s ample room for a substantive discussion about the future of U.S. health care policy. To appreciate why such a discussion isn’t occurring, look no further than the latest from Mo Brooks and like-minded voices in conservative media.