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By John Wilkes from
After a tireless misinformation campaign to convince Americans that end of life counseling by doctors was tantamount to "death panels" for the elderly and infirmed, largely thanks to efforts of Sarah Palin and Senator Charles Grassley, Republicans have succeeded in removing what should never have been a controversial provision from health care reform legislation.

If you've never been in this position, I hope you never will be: when a loved one is terminally ill, and there exists a decision of prolonging life in the short term at the expense of potentially tremendous pain and suffering, it's one of the most difficult personal dilemmas a person can ever face.  At those times, it's incredibly valuable to have a physician who can thoroughly explain the likely benefits and detriments of continued treatment.

Somehow, from that, Republican extracted the now-heavily reported "Obama death panels," in which they explained that under the public option, the dreaded "bureaucrats" would decide whether or not the sick or elderly were worthy of the cost of continued treatment.

A provision of that nature is nowhere in the health care bill.  It never was.  But that hasn't kept Republicans from claiming that it was.

Sarah Palin fired the first salvo on her Facebook page (let's face it, that's just about the only soapbox she has left): "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care." How Palin's child with Down Syndrome factored into that analysis, no one is quite sure.  But Palin's characterization of the bill was misleading if not outright false.

In fact, fellow Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski rebuked Palin for her comments, albeit without mentioning her by name.  "Critics of health care reform," she said, "the summer's hottest political topic, aren't helping the debate by throwing out highly charged assertions not based in fact."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich- who hasn't been in office in more than a decade- sensed an opportunity to make the Sunday morning talk show rounds.  Now, without slamming Palin, let me say this: Gingrich is a smart man.  He's a seasoned politician and a finely-tuned legislator.  He knows what's in the bill and what's not.  Still, on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, he responded to questions about death panels by calling them "community standards," and said they were "very dangerous."  When told that nothing in the bill covered community standards or "death panels," Gingrich only stuttered incoherently, and reiterated that they were dangerous...even though they aren't in the bill.

But perhaps the best example of hypocrisy comes from Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the man who led the fight against the provision in the Senate.  Initially, his rhetoric largely reflected that of Palin: "We should not have a government panel that determines you're going to pull the plug on Grandma."

But today, as the end-of-life counseling provision (which, again, would provide voluntary physician counseling for terminally ill patients and their families) was dropped from consideration in the Senate bill, Grassley was singing a different tune.  In a statement released by his office, Grassley claimed that the reason the provision was dropped was because it might be misinterpreted.  This, after he and his colleagues have spent weeks purposely mis-characterizing it.

The truth is that end-of-life counseling is an incredibly valuable service.  And while it's loss isn't a great blow to the legislation itself, it's certainly a victory for dishonesty in politics.

Congratulations, GOP.

Originally posted to eyesonobama on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 12:12 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  if this allows republicans to vote for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    this I'm ok with it going away.

    Hey, you guys lost. It's supposed to taste like a s**t taco. -- Jon Stewart

    by lostboyjim on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 12:15:04 PM PDT

  •  It is already current law (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, kefauver

    Republicans helped to override a Bush veto last year and it was included in PL 110-275 (section 101).

  •  The provision remains in the House bill(s)... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kefauver, The Raven, tardis10, AguyinMI

    so we should be okay. :-)

    "There is no red America, or blue America, there is the United States of America." 2004 DNC Speech

    by BarackStarObama on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 12:27:49 PM PDT

  •  The other truth is.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that the legislation that would have funded end of life counseling was proposed and added by a GOPer.....they bitched and cried like babies to remove their own proposal. Fucking morans.

  •  The Damn Fools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The majority of medical expenses are incurred in the final stages of life. This is exactly where you focus efforts to reduce expenses and lower system costs. Not just counseling, but also house-call visit programs and telemedicine can be extremely cost effective.

    It is emblematic of why we had to get the conservatives out of power that they would focus on one of the best parts of the bill and rail against it.

    Also, I want to repeat what ROGNM says above - there is no way the republicans will vote for any kind of health care reform. Their only goal is to stop it and, failing that, to ruin it.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 12:36:01 PM PDT

    •  You want to scare the crap... (0+ / 0-)

      out of about saving costs at end of life...

      HCR is not even focused on Seniors...lets leave them out of this bill...puleeese..

      Obama - Change I still believe in

      by dvogel001 on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 12:44:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The reason why (0+ / 0-)

        It's why the end-of-life counseling provisions were put in and originally backed by GOP sponsors. For example, the housecall program run at Washington Medical Center has lowered costs for eldercare by 20 percent. When you're dealing with costs in the billions, this kind of savings is megahuge and allows for better deployment of funds.

        This is a popular program because many seniors have a hard time making a physical visit to a hospital, and having the doctor visit them at home gives them less stress and more dignity. The cost savings is a nice benefit on the side. Same with end-of-life counseling. Without a living will or directions about desired care, an elderly person may wind up undergoing unwanted procedures and drastically suffering quality of life injury.

        HCR had better have a strong focus on seniors. Younger people tend to need coverage for catastrophic events, older people tend to have chronic issues.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

        by The Raven on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 12:55:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We would get more bang for our... (0+ / 0-)

          buck by a strong PSA campaign...

          Obama - Change I still believe in

          by dvogel001 on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 01:08:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

            This kind of counseling is equivalent to financial planning. In fact, in many ways it is. A 30 second soundbite wouldn't cut it.

            Sounds to me like you don't understand what this is about or you have some obscure objection that isn't clear. The main thing to know is that this is something that everyone wants - doctors, patients, family members, insurers - all stakeholders encourage the preparation of plans for the later stages of life.

            Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

            by The Raven on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 01:15:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry to cut that short... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Raven

              here is the rest of the plan...

              a great PSA campaign that you could get free advice from a live healthcare professional that was totally confidential and can provide you with the free forms necessary and help you filling out 90% of it...and if you have other questions that person could refer you to a qualified list of professionals based on the ability to pay either full cost or reduced/low cost counseling...

              And at the end of the process this person followed up with you to make sure your AD Directives were properly notorized and filed for any hospital in the country to look up...?

              In my mind a much simpler, cost effective solution that not only determines that a meeting took place but the AD was actually completed...then we can track how we are doing with metrics rather than just by how much money we spend reimbursing doctors for this mandatory reimbursement...imagine that as an alternative...

              I do understand..but I would like results not just an excuse to pay a PCP...

              Obama - Change I still believe in

              by dvogel001 on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 01:17:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I am sad for the reason it was removed... (0+ / 0-)

    but I think it was a misguided, wasteful and inefficient solution to the problem of lack of end-of-life counseling...

    Obama - Change I still believe in

    by dvogel001 on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 12:42:47 PM PDT

  •  They couldn't do it w/o spineless Dem enablers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    true? How can we make those pussy scum pay? We need to make them fear us more than those psychotic, ignorant right-wing rabble.

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