Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Wall Street Journal has its death panel cake, eats it too

Here's the WSJ headline on its editorial about the revival of government-sponsored, voluntary end-of-life counseling sessions for seniors:

headline.png.png  on Aviaryheadline.png.png on Aviary.

Remember Sarah Palin's point? It was that the government was going to set up a bureaucracy that forced seniors to commit suicide so they wouldn't spend our precious health care resources. That was never, ever, ever true. It was either a lie or a gross misunderstanding on Palin's part, but it was never, ever true.

And the Wall Street Journal, once you get past the inflammatory headline, admits this!

Certain quarters on the political right are following the media's imagination and blasting Dr. Berwick's decision as the tangible institution of death panels. But the rule-making is not coercive and gives seniors more autonomy, not less.

In this case, fully a fifth of the U.S. population will be over age 65 inside of two decades, and whatever the other marvels of modern medicine, the mortality rate remains 100%. Advance care planning lays out the options and allows patients, in consultation with their providers and family members, to ensure that their future treatment is consistent with their wishes and moral values should they become too sick to decide for themselves.

So, wait: If end-of-life counseling sessions aren't anything like death panels, then how does can the WSJ headline say Palin "had a point"?

We wrote at the time that Sarah Palin's coinage was sensationalistic, but it was meant to illustrate a larger truth about a world of finite resources and infinite entitlement wants.

Hmm. I'm not sure that "larger truths" can be well-illustrated by fat, whopping mistruths compounded by sensationalistic headlines contradicted by the articles they lead. But maybe that's how the WSJ editorial board does business. 

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