‘Death Panels’ Hypocrisy: RNC Health Insurance Provider Promotes End-Of-Life Counseling

Over the summer, one of the GOP’s loudest complaints against health care legislation was a provision offering senior citizens Medicare reimbursement for end-of-life counseling. Republicans claimed it would create so-called “death panels” or urge seniors citizens to die. RNC Chairman Michael Steele “endorsed this type of rhetoric, and on July 28, the RNC put out research document claiming that the government would “dictate” Americans’ “end-of-life care.”

But ThinkProgress has noticed that Cigna, the RNC’s health insurance provider, also urges beneficiaries to think about end-of-life services. Cigna’s website has a page called “Care at the End of Life,” which covers topics such as how to talk with “loved ones” about “end-of-life choices” and whether to stop life-prolonging treatment:

It’s unclear whether the RNC’s insurance plan covers these end-of-life consultations, and neither Cigna nor the RNC replied to inquiries from ThinkProgress. But nevertheless, the RNC’s insurance provider has posted information on its website advising beneficiaries about the complicated questions that accompany decisions at the end of someone’s life.

There is nothing objectionable about this planning, which has been endorsed by Democrats, Republicans like Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and the AARP. But this type of advice is exactly what the GOP fear-mongered about this summer. As FactCheck.org explained:

What the bill actually provides for is voluntary Medicare-funded end-of-life counseling. In other words, if seniors choose to make advance decisions about the type of care and treatments they wish to receive at the end of their lives, Medicare will pay for them to sit down with their doctor and discuss their preferences. There is no requirement to attend regular sessions, and there is absolutely no provision encouraging euthanasia.

Recently, the RNC has been urging lawmakers to support the anti-choice Stupak amendment, which would not only ban women on the federal exchange from using federal funds for abortion, but could bar employer-sponsored plans from offering the coverage. However, Politico reported this week that the RNC health care plan under Cigna has coverage for elective abortion services. Upon hearing the news, the RNC quickly opted-out of the abortion coverage, although its money is still indirectly subsidizing other women’s abortions.

If end-of-life counseling is so scary, will the RNC also call up Cigna and object? Or will it admit that there’s nothing wrong with these services and all the protests this summer were nothing more than political posturing?

(HT: TP reader Jason S.)


Greg Sargent heard from Cigna spokesman Chris Curran, who said “that while Cigna encourages customers to discuss such issues with their customers, the company doesn’t offer any insurance product that covers them.”