August 18, 2009 at 9:18 AM by Dr. Drang
When newspaper and network reporters are feeling full of themselves, they like to talk about their importance to a functioning democracy, how it’s their work that informs the public and allows it to make decisions on the important issues of the day.1 With the ongoing collapse of the newspaper business and the movement of viewers and readers to the internet, there’s been both an increase in this sort of self-important talk and a shift to the attack. “Bloggers don’t gather news, they just comment on what we provide.” “Google can never replace an experienced bureau chief.”
All of this is true in theory, but not in practice. The public is not well informed, and it’s because the news business has failed us. What will happen when the big dailies stop printing and the evening news gets pushed aside for more reality shows? Not much. The news business doesn’t deal in real information anymore, so why worry about what will happen when it’s gone? I just wish they’d pack up now so we can move on to whatever it is that will replace them.
It’s the coverage of health care reform and the death panels that’s pushed me over the edge. I suppose I should put the phrase death panels in quotes, but what’s the use? They’ve become a reality because reporters have allowed it. There are, of course, no provisions in the health care bill for death panels, either explicitly or implicitly. There is no requirement for Grandma to go get advice on how to off herself. There isn’t even a requirement for her to make a living will.
This was a simple one. The provisions in the bill regarding advanced care planning can be read and compared with these bullshit claims. The provisions are an amendment to Subsection (s)(2) of Section 1861 of the Social Security Act. This is the subsection that defines which medical and other health services are covered under Medicare. So what the bill does is
- define advanced care planning, and
- increase Medicare coverage to include it.
This puts advanced care planning on the same footing as:
- home dialysis supplies and equipment, (s)(2)(F)
- prescription drugs used in immunosuppressive therapy, (s)(2)(J)
- prostate cancer screening tests, (s)(2)(P)
- cardiovascular screening blood tests, (s)(2)(X)
- diabetes screening tests, (s)(2)(Y)
- kidney disease education services, (s)(2)(EE)
and over twenty other services covered by Medicare and described in Subsection (s)(2). Saying that Grandma will be forced to plan her death every 5 years is like saying she’s now being forced to go on dialysis.
Finding these links and reading them took me all of 20-30 minutes. It should take you less time, because I’ve already found the links for you. And when you read it, you will see that everything said by opponents to this provision is a lie. As I said, this was a simple one; everything is in black and white. But the news media, that great guardian of the public’s right to know, fumbled it, and the lies have become reality.
So I’ll shed no tears when Google runs the newspapers out of business. They haven’t been doing their business anyway.
Trite but Very Important phrases like “issues of the day” seem to come naturally to reporters. ↩︎