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posted: 8/26/2013 5:00 AM

'Death panel' myth hard to shake

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Sarah Palin was notorious for using cutesy words and phrases to conjure up negative emotions toward another candidate or issue, like the Affordable Care Act. She claimed that the health legislation being drafted by Democrats at the time would create "death panels" in which government bureaucrats would decide whether disabled and elderly patients were "worthy of health care."

Why is the death panel myth so hard to shake?

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One reason is that most people have a very poor understanding of the complex law. The law attempts to improve health care quality through changing the way hospitals and doctors are reimbursed. Out is the old fee-for-service plan and the movement toward reimbursing for value in health care. Redesigning the payment system is a fundamentally different approach to containing costs.

Another reason the myth is hard to shake is because the law calls for the establishment of a 15-member committee called the independent payment advisory board (or IPAB). It is this board that has been given the responsibility of recommending cost-saving measures to the secretary of Health and Human Services if the expenses rise too quickly. This board will consist of independent health care experts who are forbidden, by law, from proposing changes that will affect Medicare coverage or quality, nor will they be allowed to "ration" health care! They are a far cry from being considered the "death panel board."

Change is hard, and we fear what we do not know or understand. A forum on the Affordable Care Act and Illinois Exchanges may help answering. It's from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles. The agenda includes presentations and a screening of the movie "Sicko" followed by a short discussion.

Remember, Affordable Care Act has survived a Supreme Court ruling and a re-election campaign.

Joni Lindgren

Elgin

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