–Ultimate irony: The debt-hawks create “death panels”

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. They, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics.

The debt-hawks are the right wing, “cut-federal-spending” folks, who also tended to be the people complaining about so-called “death panels” mentioned by Sarah Palin. Yet, these same people actually favor death panels:

By Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, November 8, 2010; 7:52 AM

“Federal officials are conducting an unusual review to determine whether the government should pay for an expensive new vaccine for treating prostate cancer, rekindling debate over whether some therapies are too costly.

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which dictate what treatments the massive federal health-insurance program for the elderly will cover, is running a ‘national coverage analysis’ of Provenge, the first vaccine approved for treating any cancer. The treatment costs $93,000 a patient and has been shown to extend patients’ lives by about four months.

“Although Medicare is not supposed to take cost into consideration when making such rulings,the decision to launch a formal examination has raised concerns among cancer experts, drug companies, lawmakers, prostate cancer patients and advocacy groups.

“Provenge, which was approved for advanced prostate cancer in April, is the latest in a series of new high-priced cancer treatments that appear to eke out only a few more months of life, prompting alarm about their cost.

“This absolutely is the opening salvo in the drive to save money in the health-care system,” said Skip Lockwood, who heads Zero – the Project to End Prostate Cancer, a Washington-based lobbying group. ‘If the cost wasn’t a consideration, this wouldn’t even be under discussion.’”

So there you have it. Sarah, speaking for the right-wing debt-hawks, complained mightily about “death panels.” Now we have a move toward death panels – by the Palinesque debt-hawks. The article goes on to say:

”Medicare officials, who are convening a panel of outside advisers to vet the issue at a public hearing Nov. 17, say Provenge’s price tag isn’t an issue. But Berwick and other officials declined to discuss the rationale for the review.
[. . . ]
“The review comes as the Food and Drug Administration considers withdrawing an approval for another expensive cancer treatment- Avastin for metastatic breast cancer – which triggered a similar debate even though the FDA too is not supposed to factor costs into its analyses.>/span>

[ . . . ]
“Some fear the move will discourage pharmaceutical companies from developing new cancer drugs.

“’It is extremely chilling if, after spending a huge sum of money, time and effort to get a drug through FDA approval, you’ll then have to go through it all again to see if CMS will pay for it,’ said Allen S. Lichter, head of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Firing a shot across the bow like this is not the way to have an intelligent and meaningful discussion about how we start to address the complex issue of drug costs.”

Then we have the non-economists telling us what America can and cannot afford:

“To charge $90,000 for four months, which comes out to $270,00 for a year of life, I think that’s too expensive,” said Tito Fojo of the National Cancer Institute. “A lot of people will say, ‘It’s my $100,000, and it’s my four months.’ Absolutely: A day is worth $1 million to some people. Unfortunately, we can’t afford it as a society.”

[ . . .]

“‘I’d like to think cost doesn’t need to come up when it’s a slam dunk,’ said H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. ‘But when it’s a close call like this, it certainly has to be a factor. That’s $100,000 Medicare can’t spend elsewhere.'”

Clearly, Fojo and Welch have no idea how a monetarily sovereign nation works. They either believe FICA pays for Medicare or that the federal government’s ability to pay for Medicare is limited – both wrong. Sadly, even a man who claims to be an economist doesn’t get it:

“’At some point, if we keep paying these very high prices for treatments that provide very limited benefit, we’re going to reach the point where we can no longer afford health care,’ said Alan Garber, a professor of medicine and economist at Stanford University. ‘Some say we’re living through that right now.’”

So in addition to denying America a recovery from the recession and so many of the other benefits of federal spending, the debt-hawks create the Palin death panels, and deny us health care – and all from ignorance.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind me of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”

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