After The New York Times reported that the new health care reform law will cover “voluntary advance care planning” as a reimbursable Medicare service, the Obama Administration immediately feared pushback from right-wing opponents of reform. Anti-reform politicians and activists jumped on a widely-discredited and disputed article by former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey, who predicted that the reform bill will lead to government control over end-of-life decisions.
Republicans pounced on the false claim, as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) declared that the country “should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma” and House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) warned that the “provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.” Most famously, Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook that her “baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide” if he is “worthy of health care.” The New York Times said that “Ms. McCaughey has been the hammer to Ms. Palin’s nail” as the two “have driven some of the most disturbing, and distorted, claims about the proposals.”
Not only is the service voluntary, but Medscape Medical News reports that since January 1, 2009, “Medicare has been paying for [end-of-life care plans] in a limited fashion — and with little if any protest,” and the American Academy Family of Physicians and American College of Physicians applauded the move as a way to “tailor care” for each patient.
Conservatives though are already decrying the decision as the return of the death panels. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel condemned what he called “a super death panel” that will put “pressure on the elderly to end their lives prematurely” by targeting senior citizens:
When you have the government mandating this end-of-life counseling, they’re conscripting doctors to do end-of-life counseling on a massive scale. It will be the equivalent of a super death panel. Elderly patients will get confused and will end up signing documents without having a clue what they’re signing, and they will sign away care they might really want.
Spokesmen from other Religious Right groups, including the American Life League, Concerned Women For America, and Operation Rescue, also denounced the purported “death panels”:
“Nothing good can come of this,” said Judie Brown, the president of American Life League. “This will affect everybody’s parents and grandparents and preborn babies, and it will not affect anybody for the good.”
Congress must step up to cancel the regulation, Brown added. “If not, a death certificate is written for an awful lot of elderly people.”
“Those of us who voted in common-sense representatives to take control of the House will be expecting to see reversals of regulations like these that run roughshod over the will of the American people,” said Dr. Janice Crouse, director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America.
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman called the Obama approach “Darwinist,” and predicted it would lead to rationing of health care.
“When you have a fixed amount of money that is allocated to health care, it’s only logical that some bureaucrat will regulate it and decide who will get treatment,” Newman told WND. “That treatment will be based on some humanist, egalitarian principle that these bureaucrats always seem to hold. Their principles are Darwinist, survival of the fittest.
“My grandmother is 94 years old,” Newman continued. “Suppose she breaks her hip. Are they really going to authorize that expense over a 16-year-old who has urgent needs? It was Obama who said maybe Grandma should take a pill rather than get this expensive treatment.”
“Having just returned from the funeral of a dear lady – widow of a Navy man, both buried at Arlington National Cemetery – I couldn’t be more repulsed by the idea of government-controlled death panels that will make end-of-life decisions for the most vulnerable of our citizens,” Crouse added.
Conservative columnist Cal Thomas uses Charles Dickens to blast the move, and claims that it redeems Sarah Palin:
Sarah Palin deserves an apology. When she said that the new health-care law would lead to “death panels” deciding who gets life-saving treatment and who does not, she was roundly denounced and ridiculed.
Do you see where this leads? First the prohibition against abortion is removed and “doctors” now perform them. Then the assault on the infirm and elderly begins. Once the definition of human life changes, all human lives become potentially expendable if they don’t measure up to constantly “evolving” government standards.
It will all be dressed up with the best possible motives behind it and sold to the public as the ultimate benefit. The killings, uh, terminations, will take place out of sight so as not to disturb the masses who might have a few embers of a past morality still burning in their souls. People will sign documents testifying to their desire to die, and the government will see it as a means of “reducing the surplus population,” to quote Charles Dickens.