To the editor:
Everyone in America (and around the bewildered world) has heard outlandishly false claims by Sarah Palin, Chuck Grassley and other fear-mongering Republicans, about notorious death panels being proposed by Congress. Clearly, there are no provisions in any of the several Senate and House bills that envision a plan to terminate the life of any person involuntarily. The sole intention of the legislation is to facilitate compassionate discussion about end-of-life choices (“advance directives”) for persons and their family members, preferably long before critical decisions need to be made for a dying patient.
In fact, there are death panels in our country — in the form of for-profit health insurance companies. The accounts of persons being denied coverage, or having claims denied if they are “covered” are well-known, having been documented widely in the press. Furthermore, the Institute of Medicine has stated that more than 20,000 Americans die annually because of not having access to affordable care.
Ironically, few people seem to be outraged by the fact that family members, friends and co-workers are uninsured or underinsured, suffering poor health and inadequate productivity. My brother cannot afford individual health insurance premiums, and my son is denied individual coverage due to a pre-existing condition. I am furious!
Some have implied that a single-payer system would amount to socialized medicine. Medicare is a single-payer system and, with all of its flaws, it is far more efficient, equitable and affordable than private insurance. Few seniors and persons with disabilities could live without Medicare.