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.
CALLER: I have heard lots of rumors going around about this new plan and I hope that the people who are going to vote on this is going to read every single page there. 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.
LAURA INGRAHAM: Old people could be visited in their homes and essentially be told “ all right, sweetie, you’ve had a good life.
REP MIKE ROGERS(R-AL): End-of-life care for our seniors. The government wants to decide whether or not certain seniors will get procedures they need to enhance their quality of life and whether or not the computer module that he uses… or computer model determines that that’s not the highest and best use of their health care dollars. American people don’t want that.
LAURA INGRAHAM: As a mandatory counseling session? First of all, stay away from my father who is eighty-three years old. 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 DAN BURTON(R-IN): This thing is really bad for America, but it’s even worse for seniors. But you know what they’re going to do to make sure that seniors are going to be happy? They’re going to give them end-of-life counseling. Take away benefits, but tell you how you’re going to die.
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX(R-NC): Put to death by their government.
FOX LEGAL ANALYST: But I’m not for sacrificing the final days of old people in the interest of lawyers. You can’t tell the old people ‘listen, be patriotic and die quietly and stave off a quarter of all health care costs in your dyeing days and, at the same time, ignore what’s happened to our system.
FOX ANCHOR: One thing the president got hammered on for even mentioning, but no politician wants to touch is end-of-life care. and this is something that is not being brought up at all because some of these people could be squeezed pretty harsh in this plan and no ones talking about it. Why? This is one of the hidden victims here.
FOX LEGAL ANALYST: The government is trying to say to you ‘cut costs as you die. Lets not spend good money after bad.’ That’s, that’s wrong.
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.
CHARLES KRAUTHHAMMER: The larger issue here, having to do with end-of-life care. I looked at the language, there is no requirement that you be counseled because it would be inherently coercive.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mary, I just want to be clear, nobody’s going to be knocking on your door. Nobodies going to be telling you you’ve got to fill one out. And certainly, nobodies going to be forcing you make a set of decisions on end-of-life care based on some bureaucratic law in Washington.