A hospital in Wisconsin has pioneered advanced-care directives for patients on Medicare and, with the backing of other hospitals, sought to change federal rules in order to include reimbursement for consultations. The legislation was submitted last spring, with several Republican sponsors.
When language similar to the proposed legislation was included in the healthcare reform bill, unscrupulous health insurance corporations seized upon it, starting the talk of "death panels" through their favourite celebrity mouthpiece: Sarah Palin, via Facebook.
We know that Sarah Palin supported advanced-care directives when she was governor of Alaska. We also know how Medicare was mismanaged during her short term in office, precipitating the undignified death of 254 elderly people.
The ludicrous claims about "death panels" were made in the name of a very ignorant, incompetent quitter governor, tabloid queen and twitterer extraordinaire.
On August 7, Sarah Palin sold her Facebook page to special interest groups. It's obvious that notes after that date were not written by her.
That's the case if we believe Sarah Palin has any control over anything since she disappeared a few weeks ago.
The other scenario is that she's being manipulated and groomed by some very resourceful people who are going to pour money into the "Sarah Palin makeover fund" in order to disrupt and undermine any initiatives proposed by the Obama administration.
I prefer the first option: a greedy Sarah Palin grabbing the dollars at every possible opportunity, unable to control tabloid revelations, the slowmotion trainwreck we can't help but watch, in a mixture of horror and fascination.
But the absence of twits, the lack of response to Levi Johnston's Vanity Fair article, the silence from her attorney in the face of revelations far more serious and widespread than those by an Alaskan blogger (our Gryphen), who was threatened with a lawsuit for suggesting far less, all seem to point to the second option. That's scary.
There is a third option: Rupert Murdoch invested heavily in her, with the book deal, and he's protecting his investment. Perhaps when that pays off, we may see a return of the the real Sarah Palin.
A mixture of options one and three are preferable, with money being the sole motivation. Option two involves money and power and it's the really frightening one, with far reaching consequences.
Regardless of what's going on behind the scenes, the reasons for her disappearance and change of tactics, one thing is quite clear and very sad: the first victims of Sarah Palin's new direction are her children. When she sold out, for money or for power, it was at their expense.
So the idea of "death panels" she allowed to be launched on her Facebook page is simply a reflection of a deeply flawed personality.
If she doesn't care what happens to her own children, why should she care what happens to the elderly and the millions of uninsured people in the rest of the country?