Ryan Plan to Include “Life Panels”

House Republicans passed congressman Paul Ryan’s deficit-cutting budget plan on Thursday, March 29, 2012, potentially a crucial plank in their election-year campaign platform and a foil for Democratic attacks over the plan’s savings in health care. One little-noticed cost-saving provision establishes an additional hurdle for applicants for Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid. Under the new requirement, adults must demonstrate a reason to live in order to qualify for Medicaid. Analysts estimate that this could eliminate up to 50% of current and potential adult Medicaid recipients. Savings in federal general fund dollars could exceed $687 billion over 10 years.

Under the proposed policy, individuals must demonstrate a reason to live, by clear and convincing evidence, to be eligible for Medicaid. Acceptable reasons include: a) Objectively measurable artistic ability, b) Ability to engage in aesthetically-pleasing musical, dramatic, or dance performance, c) Significant mathematic, scientific, rhetoric, inventive, religious, or political capacity, or d) Being held in high regard or loved by a significant number of unrelated individuals.

To establish objectively measurable artistic ability, applicants must present critical reviews by three recognized art critics, unless paid by the individual or family members. The reviews do not have to be positive. In the art world negative reviews are considered to be more desirable and reliable than positive reviews.

Ability to engage in aesthetically-pleasing musical, dramatic, or dance performance may be verified by YouTube ratings or participation in juried competition. The individual need not win a competition, but must survive at least first-round elimination for the competition to qualify as clear and convincing evidence of a reason to live. Hip-hop is not considered music under the bill and waiving a sparkler on the Fourth of July is not considered a “dance,” unless the individual is able to wave a flag at the same time, without setting the flag on fire.

To support a finding of a reason to live by reason of mathematic, scientific, rhetoric, or inventive capacity, the individual must demonstrate that he or she is as smart as, but not necessarily smarter than, a fifth-grader. Religious capacity may be shown by a healing or other miracle within the previous 12 months. The individual is considered to have political capacity if supportive of the TEA Party. Liberal political inclinations are automatically disqualifying.

Being held in high regard or loved by a significant number of unrelated individuals may be shown by notarized testimonials of unrelated third parties. Testimonials of relatives are not considered, as relatives are conclusively presumed to be biased in favor of the individual. Paid caregivers, treatment providers, and employees of the institutions where the individual resides are disqualified from attesting to the individual being held in high regard or loved.

The bill would establish a “Life Panel” in each of the 57 states. These life panels would determine whether indigent adults have sufficient reason to live to be granted medical care. According to House Speaker John Boehner, the “life panels” are “totally opposite” to the “death panels” established by Obabamacare. The Speaker stated, “It’s as different as putting your pants on one leg at a time is from putting your legs in your pants one leg at a time. It’s as different as putting your hat on your head is from putting your head in your hat. They are as different as a Xerox machine and a copier.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded, “Life panels and death panels are the same thing. The Republicans are imitating us. We call on the President to make them stop imitating us. If they won’t stop imitating us, we will start imitating them. We’ll see how they like it!”


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2012 John B. Payne, Attorney