On August 7, 2009, Sarah Palin used her first Facebook note to launch an attack on the Affordable HealthCare Act (ACA) by claiming that it would empower Obama's "bureaucrats" to act as death panels, sitting in judgment over who is "worthy" of health care. She wrote:
[G]overnment health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. 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. Such a system is downright evil.
This week, the Death Panel has finally raised its deadly head, not in HHS or the Obama Administration, but in the Republican-led US House of Representatives. Majority Leader Boehner has scheduled a vote on a bill -- The Repeal of Obamacare Act. In contrast to Ms. Palin's wild and subjective delusions that Obamacare would lead to the establishment of death panels, the leaders of the House plan to be a Death Panel by voting for a bill that will, by all objective standards, kill people.
In 2002, the well respected, non-profit, independent Institute of Medicine found in their report, "Care Without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late," that adults without health insurance had a 25 percent greater chance of dying than those who had private health insurance. The committee found that working-age Americans without health insurance are more likely to: receive too little medical care, and receive it too late; and be sicker, and die sooner than Americans with health insurance.
Just this year, Families USA's report, "Dying for Coverage," found that if the House's proposed bill were to become law, they will be handing out real death sentences. According to Families USA's study:
- 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010
- 2,175 people died prematurely every month in 2010
- Between 2005 and 2010, the number of people who died prematurely each year due to a lack of health coverage rose from 20,350 to 26,100
- Between 2005 and 2010, the total number of people who died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage was 134,120
Can any of the elected officials who would vote to deny 30 million people coverage imagine voting to increase the possibility of their own death or that of their family members? Or are they simply meting out death sentences for others fully aware of the protections afforded them from their own "government run" healthcare that Congress has voted for itself?
President Obama's recent trip through Ohio recounted one of too many heartbreaking stories of death and pain for those who are uninsured. Kelly Hines died from colon cancer because she didn't have employer-provided coverage and couldn't afford insurance on her own.
"Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was told her income was too high for Medicaid," her sister Stephanie Miller said.
At times for the uninsured that work, even the simplest of illnesses means a delay of necessary treatment and, sadly, death.
In 2009, Paul Hannum died of a ruptured appendix, while in 2011 Kyle Willis died from an infection for an untreated tooth infection. Without insurance, Paul, expecting a daughter in two months, chose to not add an ER bill to his growing family's expenses, while Kyle, with no insurance, had to choose between pain medicine and antibiotics for his ailment.
Both statistical and anecdotal evidence show that health insurance can mean life or death for thousands of Americans, yet there are many in Congress, led by Reps. Boehner and Cantor, who are ready to let their own political ideologies prevent thousands in need from receiving the care they need to live. How many more stories of despair and death, or more studies and reports, must be recounted before we understand that health insurance may just be the difference between life and death?
It's time Republicans stop playing politics with people's lives and move on.