I missed this scolding when it was printed in the Birmingham News, but, fortunately, local attorney Jo Alison Taylor wrote a brilliant response that caught my eye this morning. According to Cal Thomas, we all owed Sarah Palin an apology in December because Obama had managed to sneak through the “death panels” after all. That would be the “death panels” that PolitiFact called the political lie of the year in 2009.
Now we learn, courtesy of one of the ridiculers — The New York Times — that [Palin] was right. Under a new policy not included in the law for fear the administration’s real end-of-life game would be exposed, a rule issued by the recess-appointed Dr. Donald M. Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, calls for the government to pay doctors to advise patients on options for ending their lives. These could include directives to forgo aggressive treatment that could extend their lives.
Why, that sneaky Obama. How dare the President make a recess appointment? He should wait around for the Republicans to stall it for months on end instead. And how devious of him to allow patients the opportunity to discuss end-of-life plans with their physicians — and allow physicians to be paid for providing their professional services.
Here’s a little background:
To partially address the need for accurate medical information, Section 512 of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-173) provided for counseling of terminally ill patients who had not elected hospice care. Section 101 of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (Public Law 110-275), signed by President George W. Bush and passed with broad bipartisan support, broadened the definition, application and payment structure for end-of-life counseling.
Then, Section 1233 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-148) provided that a Medicare beneficiary could ask his or her physician for information about end-of-life treatments and issues once a year, while still able to make independent, considered decisions and, if desired, commit them to writing in an “advance health care directive.” That section, due to opposition and procedural complications, failed to make the final bill.
Funny how end-of-life counseling was totally appropriate when the Bush administration supported it. Anyway, the Obama administration included a mention of voluntary end-of-life counseling in new Medicare regulations last month, and Thomas went ballistic.
End-of-life counseling unexpectedly surfaced again late last year in a Medicare regulation that spelled out what would be covered in a new annual checkup, or wellness visit, authorized by the health care law. The regulation said such voluntary doctor-patient discussions could be part of the annual visit.
Could be. Doesn’t have to be. Wow, how evil. Sadly, that language has now been withdrawn ahead of an expected vote to repeal health care reform.
This rule will inevitably lead to bureaucrats deciding who is “fit” to live and who is not. The effect this might have on public opinion, which by a solid majority opposes Obamacare, is clear from an e-mail obtained by the Times. It is from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who sent it to people working with him on the issue. Oregon and Washington are the only states with assisted-suicide laws, a preview of what is to come at the federal level if this new regulation is allowed to stand. Blumenauer wrote in his November e-mail: “While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet. This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”
Ah, but it’s not a myth, and that’s where Palin nailed it. All inhumanities begin with small steps; otherwise the public might rebel against a policy that went straight to the “final solution.” All human life was once regarded as having value, because even government saw it as “endowed by our Creator.” This doctrine separates us from plants, microorganisms and animals.
Yeah, right, Cal. Encouraging medical professionals to provide their input for patients trying to make informed decisions is just the same as assisted suicide — or even the ovens. Soylent Green is people, y’all!
Fortunately, Ms. Taylor actually uses reason and experience to advance her position:
Since about the mid-1950s, wonderful treatments developed that can sustain desperately ill patients through a health crisis so they can recover; I was a grateful beneficiary of some of those treatments when I was younger, and they were appropriate.
Unfortunately, once available, these excellent medical treatments began to be used routinely in cases for which they were never intended. Too often, their use is not just futile, but unwittingly cruel. Most older clients have visited and perhaps cared for loved ones or friends in a long-term-care facility or hospital. Having witnessed what can happen to those who did no advance planning or had well-meaning but uninformed family members making decisions for them, they are determined to avoid a similar fate.
In order to do so wisely, however, they need realistic medical advice, not romantic twaddle or political demagoguery…
Amen, sister! For her pains, she gets some ass in comments who chides her for her “arrogance” and “vitriol” and then closes with this gem: Screw your PhD, you are yet another who has been educated beyond her intelligence. Irony may not be dead yet, but it’s definitely on life support. I hope it had the opportunity to make an end-of-life plan.