By: Alan Levesque
In recent days, the “Death Panel” controversy has been revived. At first glance, the idea that the Government is “out to get us” appears to have merit. With talk about “end of life” counseling, the “Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research” and the “National Coordinator of Health Information Technology,” many of our fellow conservatives have woven a web of intrigue worthy of James Bond regarding this issue. On the surface it all looks plausible as there is just enough truth there to make you believe. But, like a car that looks great from fifty feet away you must get up close and really do a thorough inspection to see the rust spots, mismatched parts and Bondo. At the core of the revived “Death Panel” scenario are three separate and distinct entities. Proponents of the “Death Panel” theory are basically putting these three entities together like a jigsaw puzzle and making assumptions involving the supposed nefarious purposes of the entities. Let’s examine each in turn and see how, or if, they fit together.
The first thing we will examine, and the reason for the renewed interest in “Death Panels,” is “end of life” counseling. This is nothing new of course but a provision in the health care bill would have allowed it to be billed by the physician and medicare would have had to pay for it. This caused an uproar when Governor Sarah Palin coined the term “Death Panels” in response to this part of the Obamacare bill. The Democrats, amid much public outcry, responded by removing the “end of life” counseling portion of the bill which enabled it to more neatly fit down our throats as it was passed into law. Now the subject has come up once again as it has been revealed that “end of life” counseling has been added to the Medicare regulations. If you can’t legislate, regulate! It appears that the administration was content to pass anything when it came to health care knowing that they would just bypass congress and rule by fiat through the regulatory process. The author of the “end of life” counseling portion of the Obamacare bill, Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, sent an email to his supporters crowing about their “victory” but also cautioned against telling anyone about it for fear of stirring up the “Death Panel” controversy. The email went on to say that “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch.” The openness and transparency just brings a tear to my eye. “End of life” counseling allows the patient to make decisions about his or her care prior to the time when the need for care becomes critical and the patient may be in no position to make their own decisions. In and of itself, “end of life” counseling appears to be a good thing. read more »