They’re Back! Death Panels Through Regulation

Did you really believe Obama and his Democrat cohorts in Congress when they said the stories of death panels were just myths drummed up by Sarah Palin as a scare tactic?

Well, according to this The New York Times the government is pursuing similar end-of-life “advise” plans to the ones that were dropped from the health care bill after public outcry:

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.

While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.

The idea of an optional end-of-life planning discussion during a wellness check up is not the problem.  However, government incentivizing doctors to participate is.  Particularly when the incentives are for doctors of Medicare patients. Can anyone foreshadow how this will evolve when cost cutting measures meet Medicare?

  • Terry Schnee

    People should be able to die the way they want without govenment panels deciding when to cut off the aid to servive. This is still a free country isn't it. This needs to be dropped. I'am sure some of the very people who support this would think alittle, dfferant if someone were to tell them their aid was cut so they could die, but those people probley never thought it could effect them!

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