Death Panels Return

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

While Americans were busy celebrating Christmas, President Obama’s controversial head of Medicare and staunch supporter of rationed health care, Dr. Donald Berwick, quietly created a new Medicare rule that will reward physicians for conducting end-of-life counseling sessions with their patients.

Otherwise known as “death panels”, a similar provision was dropped from ObamaCare as a result of public outrage over the provision which would encourage physicians to consult with patients over how they want to die. Critics say the provision could too easily lead to abuse by those who would pressure the elderly or disabled into signing Living Wills and other documents that would cut off care prematurely.

“And who will suffer the most when they ration care?” asked former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in her now famous 2009 Facebook entry that ignited a firestorm of public protest. “The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

To make matters worse, lawmakers in favor of the new Medicare rule, such as Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), were caught urging health reform advocates not to advertise new end-of-life counseling regulations to avoid reviving talk of “death panels.”

“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,” read a memo issued by the Congressman’s office which was discovered by the New York Times. “The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

Blumenauer is now distancing himself from the memo, which the Times published on Dec. 26.

“If I had seen the memo, I would have suggested it be worded differently,” he recently told The Hill.

Even though the memo revived the debate over the controversial measure, Blumenauer says he believes Republicans are too focused on repealing the entire health care reform law to bother fighting over this one measure.

“This is a little target,” he said. 

However, there is definitely strong feeling against the provision by conservative House leaders, who will claim the majority on Jan. 5.

During the health care debate, pro-life House Speaker-Elect John Boehner said he believes the provision “may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.”

Berwick, who is a well-known advocate of rationed care, particularly for the elderly, was too controversial to gain Senate approval and came into office via a recess appointment by President Barack Obama. His term officially ends with the new Congress and there are already calls that the position be defunded unless he steps down on January 5.

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®

Comments are closed.