Tag Archives: end-of-life decisions

Sarah Palin, Meet Hippocrates

Palin on Obama's Death Panels

Palin on Obama's Death Panels

As if you hadn’t heard, a gaggle of American conservatives is stridently charging that pending health care reform legislation will institute a mechanism for euthanizing selected members of the handicapped and elderly populations–that it would, in Sarah Palin’s formulation, establish “death panels.” It’s true that H.R. 3200, the bill that will eventually come before the House of Representatives, is still a work in progress. It has already been amended by three separate House committees, while two Senate committees are working on drafts of their own. All of the provisions to be included in the final bill are not yet known, but one thing is certain: There is not a single statement in the voluminous number of pages under study that contains the slightest consideration, no matter its remoteness, of death panels, euthanasia, or any such fearsome concept.

In reality, the legislation simply calls for the reimbursement of physicians who counsel patients on end-of-life decision-making–counseling that is already required by a 1990 law and that is now covered by many insurance plans. But the specifics of the present bill are irrelevant to the loony conversation the right has sparked during the August recess. After all, even if there were some provision before Congress that could conceivably be interpreted as establishing a “death panel,” centuries, if not millennia, of established medical ethics (in addition to existing U.S. law) would prevent its actualization. In the midst of this crucial debate on the future of health care, somehow, the proponents of the euthanasia talking point seem to have forgotten everything we know about the practice of medicine in America.

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The GOP Has Become a Party of Nihilists

GOP Death Panels

The GOP controls the strings of scare tactic 'death panels' myth.

In one of those awful collisions between public policy and real life, I was in the midst of an awkward conversation about end-of-life issues with my father when Sarah Palin raised the remarkable idea that the Obama Administration’s attempt to include such issues in its health-care-reform proposal would lead to “death panels.” Let me tell you something about my family situation, a common one these days, in order to illuminate the obscenity of Palin’s formulation and the cowardice of those, like Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the lead Republican negotiator on the Senate Finance Committee, who have refused to contest her claim.

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Sarah’s Ghoulish Carousel

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

I’m not sure the man who popped off and tweeted that Sonia Sotomayor was a “Latina woman racist” is the best Henry Higgins for the Eliza Doolittle of Alaska.

But Newt Gingrich was a professor. And he does know something about pulling yourself up by dragging down others and imploding when you take center stage — both Palin specialties.

Besides, he agrees with Sarah — who fretted that her parents and son Trig might be in danger from Obama “death panels” — that we should be very wary about trusting government with end-of-life decisions.

So Newt took it upon himself to become Palin’s Pygmalion. He told Politico that the out-of-work pol should write a book; take a commentator gig on TV; get a condo in D.C. or New York to use as an East Coast base; and prepare three types of speeches — one “to make money,” another to “project her brand” before universities and interest groups, and a vivid campaign stump speech to use for Republican candidates in 2010.

Most important, he advised, the dizzy Palin has to be “clear in her own head what she wants to do.”

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Zeke Emanuel on Sarah Palin’s Accusation of ‘Death Panels’: ‘It’s An Absolute Outrage’

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is the Chair of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center of the National Institute of Health.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is the Chair of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center of the National Institute of Health.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the health-policy adviser at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget — who has been caricatured by conservatives as a “Dr. Death” seeking to pull the I.V.s out of your grandparents’ arms in the name of cost containment — is not happy.

Asked by ABC News in an interview about the thoroughly discredited claim by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to paint his philosophical writings as evidence — along with a provision providing optional end of life counseling in the House Democrats’ health care reform bill — that President Obama wants to set up “death panels” to deny medical treatments to seniors and the disabled, including her son Trig, Emanuel, brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, does not hold back.

“It’s an absolute outrage that you would take first of all a provision written in the bill,” Emanuel says, a provision allowing for “doctors to talk to patients about end of life care, and turn it into the suggestion that we’re going to have euthanasia boards — that’s a complete misreading of what’s there. It’s just trying to scare people.”

Emanuel says as an oncologist he’s had hundreds of discussions with patients about what to do when treatment doesn’t work.

“It’s wrenching,” he says.

The provision in the House Democrats’ bill is “an acknowledgment doctors should be compensated for making that conversation available,” he says. “It’s not forced — it’s voluntary.”

As for Palin’s vision of “Obama ‘death panels,’” Emanuel argues “there’s no basis for that claim either in any of my writings or the legislation. It has no grounds in reality. It’s surreal and Orwellian, the idea that this legislation or my writings suggest that her son Trig shouldn’t get health care.”

He notes that his sister has Cerebral Palsy, so he is not without personal sympathy for those with disabilities.

An opponent of euthanasia, Emanuel says he “abhor”s people “cavalierly distorting those writings and the work that I’ve done over 25 years to help improve medical care in America for vulnerable people who often have no voice.”

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FACT CHECK: No ‘Death Panel’ in Health Care Bill

Demonstrators in Lincoln, Neb., last week argued about the Democratic-led push to overhaul the health care system.

Demonstrators in Lincoln, Neb., last week argued about the Democratic-led push to overhaul the health care system.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says the health care overhaul bill would set up a “death panel.” Federal bureaucrats would play God, ruling on whether ailing seniors are worth enough to society to deserve life-sustaining medical care. Palin and other critics are wrong.

Nothing in the legislation would carry out such a bleak vision. The provision that has caused the uproar would instead authorize Medicare to pay doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care, if the patient wishes. Here are some questions and answers on the controversy:

Q: Does the health care legislation bill promote “mercy killing,” or euthanasia?

A: No!

Q: Then what’s all the fuss about?

A: A provision in the House bill written by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would allow Medicare to pay doctors for voluntary counseling sessions that address end-of-life issues. The conversations between doctor and patient would include living wills, making a close relative or a trusted friend your health care proxy, learning about hospice as an option for the terminally ill, and information about pain medications for people suffering chronic discomfort.

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