Thursday, August 13, 2009

Death Panels: Not Debunked, Exactly

To dispel concerns about the alleged "death panels" in the health care bills, President Obama said at his recent staged town hall meeting,
“Let me just be specific about some things that I’ve been hearing lately that we just need to dispose of here. The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we’ve decided that we don’t, it’s too expensive to let her live anymore....It turns out that I guess this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, etc. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready on their own terms. It wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything.”
Hmmm. This voluntary consultation (1) may be initiated by the physician who is encouraged to do it because the physician gets paid to do it and (2) is in a part of a bill whose stated purpose is “to reduce the growth in health care spending.” In other words, to reduce health care costs, the bill pays physicians to initiate conversations with grandma about her right to have the plug pulled.

No matter how the President tries to package it, this provision is about encouraging pulling the plug to save costs. Sarah Palin has a well reasoned discussion of this on her facebook page.

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