Patterico's Pontifications

1/5/2011

Death Panels Put Out of Their Misery, Again

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:51 am



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Not too long ago Karl reported on the Christmas-weekend news of the return of the Death Panels by regulation, hoping we wouldn’t notice.

Well, if this AP report is correct, we did notice and they are killing it, again.

Reversing a potentially controversial decision, the Obama administration will drop references to end-of-life counseling from the ground rules for Medicare’s new annual checkup, a White House official said Wednesday.

The latest shift on the sensitive subject comes ahead of a vote next week in the new GOP-led House to repeal President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul. The decision is not likely to have much impact on patients and doctors already discussing options for care in the last stages of life.

Medicare coverage for voluntary end-of-life planning was part of the original House version of the overhaul legislation in 2009, but it was dropped after Sarah Palin and other Republicans raised the specter of “death panels” deciding the fate of vulnerable seniors. Those charges were later debunked by several non-partisan fact-checking groups.

Sure it was end of life coverage in a section of the bill designed to keep costs down.  Nothing at all creepy about that!

And of course we get a new use of the MSM’s favorite adjective when describing bad news regarding the Obama administration:

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.

The White House official said the administration is now pulling back the language because there wasn’t enough chance for all sides to comment on the change. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss what has turned into an embarrassing episode for the administration.

Ya don’t say.  In fact, I meant to post this closer to the time when Karl posted on the death panels, but the Hill captured the triumph of transparency involved in that initial decision:

Democrat regrets language in memo on ‘death panels’ that reignited debate

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is distancing himself from a memo sent by his office that urged health reform advocates not to advertise new end-of-life counseling regulations to avoid reviving talk of “death panels.”

The weeks-old memo recommended that end-of-life advocates celebrate a “quiet” victory out of concern that Republican leaders would “use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Blumenauer now says he regrets the letter’s secretive language, which has only bolstered conservatives’ claims that the Obama administration tried to sneak the provision in under the radar.

“If I had seen the memo, I would have suggested it be worded differently,” Blumenauer told The Hill.In the memo, first reported on Dec. 26 by The New York Times, Blumenaeur’s office expressed concern that new attention to end-of-life care planning could doom an end-of-life provision included in a Medicare regulation issued last month.“Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response,” the memo read. “The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

You know, nothing says “democratic legitimacy” more than a policy that people want to desperately want to keep hidden from the public.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

28 Responses to “Death Panels Put Out of Their Misery, Again”

  1. The rest of the story:

    End-of-life planning is already an accepted part of care for people facing terminal illness, and the administration’s reversal is unlikely to have much impact on that. Longstanding federal rules already require hospital patients to be informed of their right to spell out in a living will or similar document their wishes about being kept alive by machinery if there’s no hope for a cure.

    So good job at blocking… nothing, really.

    Big GOP victory. Miller Time.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  2. kman

    if its nothing, then why are they wasting our time?

    Again, opinions unrelated to facts.

    Aaron Worthing (1a6294)

  3. If it is nothing, why do the Dems try to hide this from public view, and impose by regulation what they could not get via legislation?

    JD (822109)

  4. If it is nothing, why do the Dems try to hide this from public view, and impose by regulation what they could not get via legislation?

    Well, fine. You got me. It’s not literally nothing. It’s de minimis — merely an effort to ensure that elderly people who do NOT have terminal illnesses also be informed that they have the right to make a living will.

    Yeah. Helping the elderly and infirm by informing them of options during their annual checkup. That’s scary stuff.

    And as the article explains, JD, the Dems tried to “hide it from view” not because there were secretly trying to kill Granny (and unless you’re an idiot, you already know this), or any other nefarious reason. They tried to hide it because they didn’t want to get dinged again with the death panels lie which, quite frankly, was a successful GOP attempt to misinform people.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  5. he public needs to convene death panels for the government.

    LarryD (f22286)

  6. Who could ever imagine that people would be concerned about forcing end of life counseling as a cost saving measure? Your sophistry ipedestrian, kmart.

    As an aside, I do not recall this particular issue giving rise to the idea of death panels.

    JD (0d2ffc)

  7. As an aside, I do not recall this particular issue giving rise to the idea of death panels.

    This was the issue giving rise to the whole “death panel” ridiculousness. And it got distorted even more as time went on. That’s how badly you were misinformed, and how successful the GOP was at keeping you that way.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  8. I think you are lying, kmart. Dustin, I believe, posted the original death panel comment in the context in which it was made. Were I on a computer, I could look it up. Maybe someone can do so. At any rate, it is always fun to watch you and your ilk get the vapors over somebody pointing out the inevitable outcome of the policies you endorse.

    JD (0d2ffc)

  9. I’ve always found the debate about this to be somewhat odd.

    I mean: end of life counseling, in and of itself, is a good thing. It’s important that each individual be allowed to control how they are treated, and that each individual have the power to decide what they do and do not want done – and to communicate these decisions before they cease to be able to communicate, or to make the decisions. That requires that people who are at high risk of losing those capabilities think about it, and plan for it, in advance.

    Now: I wouldn’t tie this to cost cutting. The goal is empowering people to make their own decisions instead of having others make those decisions for them, and if there is cost-cutting which results, it’s a fringe benefit, not the goal.

    But: aside from the connection to cost cutting, and the glee of using a club for political purposes, I don’t understand what the objection to this proposal is.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  10. The origin of “death panels” is explained here. Relevant graf:

    In reality, the bill section simply aims to provide Medicare coverage for once-every-five-year conversations with doctors over what life-prolonging measures, if any, a patient wants taken in the event of a terminal illness or injury. It’s an idea first championed by a conservative Republican senator, Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

    But McCaughey took that section and ran with it, providing backup for Palin and right-wing media pot-stirrers to sound the “death panel” alarm.

    Emphasis mine.

    Somehow, a conversation with doctors about living wills, etc. became “death panels”. And the meme stuck.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  11. But: aside from the connection to cost cutting, and the glee of using a club for political purposes, I don’t understand what the objection to this proposal is.

    There wasn’t any objection to the proposal. Very few people knew what the underlying proposal was all actually about — they just heard the phrase “death panel”, and that conjured up all kinds of inaccurate images.

    It was just a way to kill health care reform altogether.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  12. Kman

    > It’s de minimis — merely an effort to ensure that elderly people who do NOT have terminal illnesses also be informed that they have the right to make a living will.

    Sure, because they have no idea. Who exactly do you think you are fooling?

    > They tried to hide it because they didn’t want to get dinged again with the death panels lie which, quite frankly, was a successful GOP attempt to misinform people.

    Wow, so according to you the people are so stupid that you can’t, just, you know, EXPLAIN intentional tort TO THEM THAT THIS IS A LIE, SUPPOSEDLY. Maybe, its because its not a lie.

    And don’t bother citing the New York Daily News’ propaganda to me.

    Every time universal health care is tried, it always ends up being rationing of care. So the state decides who lives or dies, who is worth saving. Recently the Food and Drug Administration denied approval of a drug because it cost too much, as though the people who need it and can afford it shouldn’t have that option. This was the nose under the tent. Thank God it was stopped, and soon your whole stupid law will be declared unconstitutional.

    Aaron Worthing (1a6294)

  13. Aphrael – I suspect, despite kmart’s obfuscation, that the death panel objection was more a result of the economic review panels, and ultimate rationing of treatment.

    JD (b98cae)

  14. JD – the news article linked in this post suggests that end-of-life counseling is, in and off itself, controversial.

    I think that’s bizarre.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  15. Sure, because they have no idea. Who exactly do you think you are fooling?

    Some seniors don’t. Or do you think you impute knowledge to every single senior citizen in the country?

    Wow, so according to you the people are so stupid that you can’t, just, you know, EXPLAIN intentional tort TO THEM THAT THIS IS A LIE, SUPPOSEDLY. Maybe, its because its not a lie

    Then surely you can point to the provision of health care that discusses death panels.

    No, you can’t. You’ll bluster, you’ll change the topic, you’ll call me stupid/gay/stalker — all to cover up the fact that you can’t point to the provision talking death panels in Obamacare, And why can’t you? Because there was no provision for death panels in Obamacare during the health care debates. Just hyperbolic rhetoric.

    And that’s what made it a lie — a whopping one — to say that there were death panels in the legislation.

    Every time universal health care is tried, it always ends up being rationing of care. So the state decides who lives or dies, who is worth saving.

    Care is rationed. It’s rationed under any system conceivable. It was rationed before Obama even took office. And any lawyer even remotely familiar with insurance companies knows this. The only difference is who is doing the rationing — someone who we can hold accountable, or someone we can’t.

    Recently the Food and Drug Administration denied approval of a drug because it cost too much, as though the people who need it and can afford it shouldn’t have that option.

    Bullshit. You’re talking about Avastin? You’re not quoting a fact to me — that’s the political spin. The FDA rejected Avastin because it failed clinical trials. Stop making things up.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  16. I’ll be back.

    Death Panel Clause (3aa1fd)

  17. That’s how badly you were misinformed, and how successful the GOP was at keeping you that way.

    If everyone was sooo badly misinformed, then you’ll no doubt be happy to answer the question as it was directly put to you earlier – why the need to so forcefully keep this under wraps?

    Either answer that question or admit once again that you’re just farting in the wind.

    Dmac (498ece)

  18. If everyone was sooo badly misinformed, then you’ll no doubt be happy to answer the question as it was directly put to you earlier – why the need to so forcefully keep this under wraps?

    “So forcefully”? A Congressman wrote a memo. That’s your idea of “forcefully”?

    In any event, I answered the question (see #4). It’s also in the article that A.W. links to, if you bothered to read it.

    Kman (d30fc3)

  19. end of life counseling, in and of itself, is a good thing.

    Agreed, as long as it’s initiated by the doctor or the patient, rather than the government.

    As far as “death panels” go, I never really considered end of life counseling to qualify. I always equated the term with the inevitable government-mandated restriction of care to hold down costs.

    malclave (4f3ec1)

  20. Rep. Blumenauer would have “worded it differently”. But, he didn’t discipline or fire the staffer who thinks it’s good to keep controversial issues from the public so they can’t react.

    Nor did Blumenauer, who is a primary congressional promoter of paid/mandated end of life counseling as well as assisted suicide, say a word of praise for it at the time. Strange, not to praise steps taken in a key direction you want to go.

    For Blumenauer, wording it differently means not having his anti-democratic tactics made public by the New York Times.

    T D (7d9cc1)

  21. They tried to hide it because they didn’t want to get dinged again with the death panels lie which, quite frankly, was a successful GOP attempt to misinform people.

    So in other words, letting the truth come out about their attempts at covert legislation would ultimately hurt their machinations. Got it.

    You better cover your eyes over the next year, the House of Reps is going to ruin your fevered dreams forever. Issa is going to pick apart every corrupt and clandenstine piece of dictak that Pelosis and her cohorts crammed through under the cover of darkness. Sunlight is indeed the best disenfectant.

    Dmac (498ece)

  22. Leftists always lie about their true intentions, since if they told the truth, the vast majority of Americans would never support them at the polls.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  23. Trees

    Take care of many more people for less money. This was the promise. How can this be done without the easy and cheap shortcut of rationing care? Do we want decisions about what is appropriate care made by a bureaucrat in DC? No.

    end of life counseling, in and of itself, is a good thing
    As are all kinds of topics of conversation between a doctor and patient. Why should a footnote in a book written by a bureaucrat in reponse to a law written by Congressmen tell a doctor what he/she can or cannot talk with their patient about and how much they are allowed to charge for it, and you have to hire office staff who can get the code numbers right because there will be another office worker somewhere checking to see if the code numbers are right, all of which has very little to do with the quality of care the doctor provides or the satisfaction of the patient, but does give administrators numbers to crunch and IT workers jobs writing programs to crunch the numbers and networking the computers to make sure the crunched numbers get to where they are supposed to be sent to, so someone can use them to argue whatever point they want to make, because if the numbers don’t show it, you can get new numbers, that’s why statistics are called the third kind of lie. Run on flow of thinking gibberish now over.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  24. Given that Ezekiel Emanuel and Donald Berwick are both big fans of health care rationing, the death panel debate is a real issue. Berwick loves the British system which weighs useful remaining life versus the cost of care. Obama himself ignited part of the debate using his grandmother as an example on national TV, discussing whether she should get a hip replacement or merely a pain pill.

    Kman is just pulling more rank dishonesty out of his squeakhole.

    aphrael, paying doctors to give the counseling to patients as part of an ANNUAL, rather than once every FIVE YEARS on VOLUNTARY basis, will make this a mandatory procedure, whether the patients want it or not.

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  25. Only the government and bureaucrats know what is good for you, you ignorant proles. Your doctors and health care providers know nothing.

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  26. But yet the FDA revocation of the approval for Avastin for late stage breast cancer on the basis of cost, not efficacy or safety remains… THAT is where the REAL death panel lies…

    Rorschach (c5574d)

  27. rorschach

    thanks for that. i had forgotten the exact drug, only that it was rejected for cost.

    so basically the FDA says it is better potentially to die than to have an expensive drug.

    2012 can’t come fast enough.

    Aaron Worthing (b1db52)

  28. FDA says it is better potentially to die than to have an expensive drug

    Those folks in on the decision making better hope that neither they nor any of their relatives end up needing that drug on an “experimental protocol”. Juries do not like the idea of someone in power denying something to one person then approving it for their own family, no they don’t like it at all.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)


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