Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 6, 2011

Reject 'death panel' distortion

The Free Press
CNHI News Service

— The old “death panel” distortions raised their ugly heads again when President Obama through legal administrative procedure recently included end-of-life planning between doctor and patient as a service that could be covered under Medicare preventive care.

The term “death panel” is a distortion of epic proportions and those, in the media and elsewhere, who continue to give the term as a legitimate description of the policy are intellectually dishonest at best and intentionally playing on fears of seniors worst.

People on both sides of the political aisle have agreed this is a “hyperbolic” term, the most recent was John McCain’s advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer speaking on the issue on CNN a few nights ago.

Though she called it hyperbolic she still argues that the provision puts government in control of one’s end of life decision or discussion. One can debate that I suppose, but barely. There is no specific language that says government is involved at all — it’s between doctor and patient — and even then it is mandated to be a totally voluntary policy.

But as correctly pointed out by numerous sources, the so called “death panel” provision for end of life counseling was put in Legislation passed by Democrats and Republicans in Congress in 2008 and put in place by the Bush Administration after that. Bush vetoed the larger 2008 Medicare bill but mainly because it removed his planned 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors. Yes, that’s right, he was planning to cut Medicare. He was overridden by large margins of both Democrats and Republicans in the House by a vote of 383-41 and in the Senate by 70-26.

The Bush administration later incorporated the end of life provisions into its Medicare regulations and rules.

. . . It’s unfortunate many public servants still choose to mislead taxpayers and create fear among those who might not be reading The New York Times every day. It’s a public servant’s responsibility to accurately portray issues for their constituents, and mainly, to be honest.