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Jeers to Palin, cheers to Pawlenty on healthcare

What in the world is going on with Republicans and healthcare?

Intelligent people who know better, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and certain commentators on Fox News, are lying through their teeth about healthcare reform in order to scare people into opposing it.

Palin appears to have stepped down so she could be completely irresponsible and happily muddy the waters without the blowback she'd receive as governor.

One big lie that seems to keep spreading unwarranted fear is end-of-life care. Palin and others who oppose reform claim that Obama's plan would create a government panel that would decide who lives and who dies.

Death panels? This is supposed to boost her into a bigger role in national politics? Shame on her.

Don't be fooled -- or scared -- into believing this. It's simply not true.

There is also nothing in the healthcare reform bill that would force people to decide how they want to die. The only thing the bill would do is allow Medicare to cover patient-doctor consultations about end-of-life planning, such as how to draw up a living will or how to receive Hospice services.

The bottom line: It's completely voluntary. Patients would be seeking out the advice on their own - they wouldn't be required to.

While reform is desperately needed, there are plenty of things not to love about the Democrats' healthcare plan -- not least the cost and the lack of any plan to control costs into the future.

But opponents should debate the plan on its merits. Using scare tactics just gives the impression that they have no substantial arguments to make, so they have to stoop to dirty tricks to kill the measure.

Contrast Palin's approach with another contender on the national stage, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

In an op-ed published Monday in the Washington Post, Pawlenty urged Congress to adopt a healthcare plan that ties funding to results.

"Unfortunately, government often dumps money into programs without regard to accountability and outcomes," he wrote.

Washington should "look to the states for models of market-driven, patient-centered and quality-focused reform," he added.

He pointed to Minnesota's state employee health-care plan, which he said has demonstrated excellent results by linking outcomes to value.

Employees overwhelmingly selected providers who deliver higher quality and lower costs.

Cheers to Pawlenty for staying out of the gutter and showing his colleagues how to debate an issue the right way -- using logic and common sense.