Times Devotes Op-ed Space to 'Wasteful' Care of Elderly; Krugman Rant

Columnist Paul Krugman raved on Monday about the "gullibility of voters" on health care and right-wing "lies." A second author attacked "wasteful" treatment to the elderly.

The Times' op-ed page on Monday was home to some vitriolic, extreme comments on health care, including a Paul Krugman rant on the "gullibility of voters" and right-wing "lies." Additionally, author Richard Dooling wrote a piece that lamented "insanely expensive" end-of-lifeprocedures for the elderly and predicted rationing.

Arguing that some of these operations are useless, Dooling complained:

With so much evidence of wasteful and even harmful treatment, shouldn't we instantly cut some of the money spent on exorbitant intensive-care medicine for dying, elderly people and redirect it to pediatricians and obstetricians offering preventive care for children and mothers? Sadly, we are very far from this goal. A cynic would argue that this can't happen because children can't vote (even if their parents can), whereas members of AARP and the American Medical Association not only vote but can also hire lobbyists to keep the money flowing.

Who woulddecide what procedure, exactly, was "wasteful?" Dooling didn't say, specifically, other than to generally mention "review boards." The "Critical Care" novelist then went on to lobby for spending this money elsewhere:

I am not, of course, talking about euthanasia. I'm just wondering why the nation continues incurring enormous debt to pay for bypass surgery and titanium-knee replacements for octogenarians and nonagenarians, when for just a small fraction of those costs we could provide children with preventive health care and nutrition. Eight million children have no health insurance, but their parents pay 3 percent of their salaries to Medicare to make sure that seniors get the very best money can buy in prescription drugs for everything from restless leg syndrome to erectile dysfunction, scooters and end-of-life intensive care.

Dooling also argued that a lack of money could force Americans into a situation where "We'll be forced to implement quick-and-dirty rules based on something simple, sensible and easily verifiable. Like age. As in: No federal funds to be spent on intensive-care medicine for anyone over 85." Of course, that sounds an awful lot like the sort of statement that the Times has condemned as Republican fear mongering.

Another op-ed piece continuedthe government-run health care lobbying. Paul Krugman, in a vitriolic aside, raged:

So we can do this. At this point, all that stands in the way of universal health care in America are the greed of the medical-industrial complex, the lies of the right-wing propaganda machine, and the gullibility of voters who believe those lies.

With the exception of one article lastThursday, the Times' op-ed pages over the last week have been full of aggressive, full-throated support for universal health care. Perhaps Americans would be less worried about "death panels" if the NYT didn't publish articles calling them stupid and lamenting wasteful spending on the elderly.