Paul Krugman has long extolled the virtues of Britain's National Health Service and its National Institute for Clinical Excellence with the Orwellian acronym of NICE. Krugman has been anything but nice to NHS critics and those who've said that what have been called its "death panels" would be brought to America via ObamaCare.
In a roundtable discussion on ABC's "This Week," the New York Times columnist said of what recently came out of the president's deficit commission: "Some years down the pike, we're going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes.
"Medicare is going to have to decide what it's going to pay for," Krugman said. "And at least for starters, it's going to have to decide which medical procedures are not effective at all and should not be paid for at all. In other words, (the deficit commission) should have endorsed the panel that was part of the health care reform."
Krugman went right to his blog Sunday afternoon to "clarify" his comments. He explained, and we are willing to accept, that he was being derisive of the term and sarcastic. "I said something deliberately provocative on This Week," Krugman wrote, "so I think I'd better clarify what I meant," which is something he regularly denies to others.
He explained that "health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they're willing to pay for — not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we're willing to spend for extreme care."
Whatever his intended use of the phrase "death panels," what he describes are in fact "death panels." A group of people will sit on a, er, panel, deciding what treatments are cost-effective and should be available and who should get them. That is called rationing and in cases of the "extreme care" he mentions, a life-and-death decision.
That's a death panel.
We recall how Krugman savaged Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for warning what Krugman now says should happen might happen. Palin said: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."