Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Death Panels

Opponents of President Obama's health care reform have raised many questions about the bill now making its way through Congress, but few have been as inflammatory as the one concerning end-of-life care. The contention: that senior citizens would be put before panels that would decide whether lifesaving care for them is cost-effective. The origin of these concerns about so-called death panels was a provision that in actuality proposed that Medicare reimburse doctors for counseling patients on such end-of-life care issues as setting up living wills and determining the availability of hospice. Buttressed by Republicans like Sarah Palin and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the notion of death panels became popular fodder for conservatives trying to stall progress on the bill. Obama assured Americans that the provision would not force families to "pull the plug on Grandma," and the fight eventually moved on to other hot-button issues like abortion and the public option.