Do “Death Panels” Already Exist in US Healthcare?


By AAPS, Special for TDB.

In a Twitter sparring match with Jim Hanson, the president of the Security Studies Group, newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote: “Actually, we have for-profit ‘death panels’ now: they are companies + boards saying you’re on your own bc they won’t cover a critical procedure or medicine.” This was in response to a remark on “socialist death panels.”

“Ocasio-Cortez is correct in that insurers—like government programs—often deny coverage for life-saving services, or make them virtually unavailable because of narrow networks,” states AAPS executive director Jane M. Orient, M.D.

In commenting on the exchange, Justin Hawkins, editor-in-chief of, states that in a market-based system, one could simply choose an insurance plan that had the needed coverage. However, we are far from having a free-market system, and even if we did, one cannot buy coverage instantly upon finding out the need to make a claim. Even ObamaCare Exchange plans have open enrollment periods, outside of which enrollment is closed.

Some essential facts that all need to know:

Notably, Ocasio-Cortez and other advocates for more socialization of medicine do not deny the need to deny or restrict services. There will be price controls, utilization reviews, shortages, surveillance of doctors, and many other methods of covert rationing—just no officially designated and accountable Death Panel.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943. Its motto is “omnia pro aegroto,” or “all for the patient.”

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