Yesterday, during President Obama’s AARP town hall, a caller stated that she had “heard lots of rumors going around about this new plan…I have been told there is a policy there that everyone that Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die.” This “rumor” which may have been started by infamous health care provocateur Betsy McCaughey has made its way into the standard conservative critique of the Democrats’ reforms:
- Laura Ingraham: Old people could be visited in their homes and essentially be told ” all right, sweetie, you’ve had a good life...I don’t want a government bureaucrat telling him what kind of treatment he should consider to be a good citizen. That’s frightening.
- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): [Americans will be] put to death by their government.
- Rush Limbaugh: The bureaucratic going to make the decisions. You aren’t. And it’s in the House bill. Once you reach, I don’t know what the age is, every five years, it’s in the sixties, every five years some counselor shows up.
- Sean Hannity: In other words, they would mandate that those who get government care literally could be pushed to refuse care.
Watch a compilation:
To substantiate their claims, conservatives point to SEC. 1233 of the House Tri Committee bill, a section titled “ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION.” But while the language allows Medicare to reimburse providers for consulting with patients about end-of-life issues, nothing in the section mandates a consultation. On page 429, the bill specifically states that seniors “may” consult with medical professionals — not government bureaucrats:
The bill aims to provide seniors with information about drafting a living will or the options surround end of life care, information Americans have been asking for. A recent report by ThirdWay found that “although 75% of Americans feel advance directives are a good idea, only 40% of Medicare patients say they have one.” Given the lack of clear information, “many patients sign documents that don’t offer clear instructions. Family members may have conflicting feelings about the care they wish to see a patient receive…For elderly patients, their end-of-life wishes regarding care are often unknown or ignored.” The new optional Medicare service seeks to reverse that trend and help patients make more informed end-of-life decisions.
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