NY Times Turnaround? Concerns Over 'Death Panels' Suddenly Not So Bizarre

A turnaround on Obama-Care at the New York Times? Not quite, but health reporter Robert Pear's corrective story Friday, "A Basis Is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly," did make some surprising concessions to conservative concerns about rationing of health care for the elderly under an Obama plan. Might those horror stories about "death panels," declared "false" by the Times just a week before, actually have some credence? A week previous, the Times had dismissing such concerns about rationing on its front page as fringe conservative conspiracy akin to campaign rumors Obama was a Muslim. But Pear found the questioning of one of the central premises of Obama-care -- rationing -- more widespread:

White House officials and Democrats in Congress say the fears of older Americans about possible rationing of health care are based on myths and falsehoods. But Medicare beneficiaries and insurance counselors say the concerns are not entirely irrational.

Bills now in Congress would squeeze savings out of Medicare, a lifeline for the elderly, on the assumption that doctors and hospitals can be more efficient.

Journalist Mickey Kaus had fun with the Times's turnaround on Obama-Care.Just last week, a couple of Pear's colleagues, political reporters Jim Rutenberg and Jackie Calmes, tried to discredit concerns about rationing of care in a front-page story by linking the accusation to fringe conservatives who question Obama's eligibility to serve as president. Rutenberg and Calmes stated uncategorically:

There is nothing in any of the legislative proposals that would call for the creation of death panels or any other governmental body that would cut off care for the critically ill as a cost-cutting measure.

Kaus focused on this excerpt from Friday's story by Pear, certainly no conservative sympathizer, contradicting the paper's easy assurance of a week ago:

The zeal for cutting health costs, combined with proposals to compare the effectiveness of various treatments and to counsel seniors on end-of-life care, may explain why some people think the legislation is about rationing, which could affect access to the most expensive services in the final months of life.
Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center . Read more: http://archive.newsbusters.org/bios/clay-waters.html#ixzz3CdgxLFgQ