Defeating a sticky message – not so easy


Category : Medical Rants

Evan Falchuk has a thoughtful entry about “death panels” – Three Reasons Why “Death Panel” Myths Live On

With all the attention paid to the subject, you’d think these stories should be dead by now. But when asked if they think something like “death panels” are real, only 23% said “no.” A full 73% said they didn’t know or thought the answer was “yes.”

To understand why this idea sticks, you should read Made to Stick. I believe it sticks because it is a catchy phrase. It avoids the Curse of Knowledge – as Evan actually discusses – by providing a simplified idea. We remember simple ideas.

Evan does make a most important point about legislation – almost nobody really knows the details of any bill. Our legislative process has major problems.

I could probably make a strong reasoned argument against any bill. I know that I could make a strong argument against part of health care reform – when we finally get a bill to dissect. However, I can also make a strong argument in favor of any bill. It depends on what we find most important.

I have discussed in the past why I favor these flawed bills.

There are no death panels.

Comments (3)

[…] UPDATE: More interesting insights on this from Dr. Robert Centor here. […]

No, there are no death panels in HR3200, section 1233.
But – there are questions that need to be addressed.

First, in a bill that is called the Health Care Affordability Act, what is a provision doing in there to pay doctors to do counseling? How does that make health care more affordable?

Second, why are doctors going to be paid more for something that is already federally mandated? – people are already supposed to be notified of their end of life options when they are admitted.

Third, people like Ezekiel Emanuel continually cite rationing in their articles. Now it is true Dr. Emanuel has gone on record as being against rationing but the problem is he doesn’t say what he is for- when resources become constrained. Let him explain why rationing can be avoided.

Fourth, the experience in Britain is sobering, the Daily Telegraph has documented rationing decisions made at the expense of the elderly in thousands of cases. This is never addressed by the people who are quick to deny death panels.

IT would be a lot more comforting if those who are proponents of HR 3200, instead of treating the concerns so lightly and saying “there are no death panels” would say we understand these concerns, they are legitimate- here is what we will do to make sure this doesn’t happen.

The fact is there are no death panes but the current health care bill is short on details – and that doesn’t mean that there won’t be death panels in the future unless those constructing the bills assure the public.

“Death Panels” exist, they just don’t label them this way. As a traveling ER nurse for over 10 years, my first contact with this concept was working an ER in Long Island NY.

The ER docs were encouraged to not admit patients of a certain age, medical problem and average insurance. And the ER docs were given bonuses for this action.

I was told that the owners of this particular health care system (5 hospitals total) felt settling the occasional lawsuit was cheaper than admitting all the people that by ethical and moral codes should be admitted. Check out

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