Advocates for better end-of-life care expect Medicare to soon announce that it will start paying physicians for having advanced-care planning conversations with patients -- reviving the widely misunderstood provision that gave rise to “death panel” fears and nearly sank the Affordable Care Act.I like the way we've decided in retrospect that this was all the fault of that awful Sarah Palin, someone we now universally realize was a ridiculous person. Please recall that even before we started to hear "death panels" talk from the likes of Palin and Senator Charles Grassley ("You have every right to fear. ... [We] should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma"), we were being told to worry about government-mandated deaths of the elderly by quite a few other folks, including John Boehner and the Republican leadership of the House:
The new policy could be part of an annual Medicare physician payment rule, which could be released any day.....
Such a policy shift would come six years after former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s wild charges of “death panels” triggered near-hysteria that bureaucrats might begin to withhold medical care from older Americans. Polls showed that the charges stuck, and the ongoing uproar in the summer of 2009 almost derailed Obamacare. The same fears have shadowed the law ever since.
It’s not clear whether a decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to pay Medicare physicians for those difficult and time-consuming discussions with patients and families would spark another round of recriminations.
Sean Hannity believes it. So does House Minority Leader John Boehner. Talk show host Fred Thompson calls it “the dirty little secret” of the health care reform debate.There's a lot being done for the elderly at the end of life by health care providers that the patients and their families don't want done. It's expensive and very often does nothing to improve quality of life. We always should have been covering these completely voluntary discussions of end-of-life plans. If this is finally going to become law, I applaud the Obama administration for its quiet persistence.
The focus of their ire is a provision tucked deep inside the House bill that would provide Medicare coverage for an end-of-life consultation once every five years. If a person falls ill with a life-threatening disease, more frequent sessions would be allowed.
Republicans are now using this language as a wedge between senior citizens and Democrats. Boehner and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) issued a statement last week saying it “may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia” -- even though the concept behind the provision has been embodied in federal law since 1990 and has been promoted by Republicans and Democrats for years.
Meanwhile, I see that the right has a very important bit of unfinished business, too, and that's not going quite as well:
In a radio interview broadcast Sunday, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio affirmed he is “pretty well convinced” President Obama’s birth certificate, as released by the White House in 2011, is a “fraudulent, fake document.”Awwww -- he's this close to revealing the truth, but no one's interested anymore. Poor guy!
“I’ve been in law enforcement 55 years,” stated Arpaio. “I think I know a fraudulent, fake document. I’m not a computer expert. I rely on my people. But I’m pretty well convinced it’s a fake document.”
The famous sheriff was being interviewed for “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” ...
During the interview, Arpaio brought up the birth certificate....
Arpaio’s statements prompted Klein to ask for an update on his team’s investigation into the long-form birth certificate document, posted April 27, 2011 as a PDF file on the White House website.
Arpaio told Klein that “once again nobody wants to look at it right now.”
“So it’s not my problem. I did my job.”
Well, maybe fellow birther Donald Trump can reopen the debate now that he's doing so well in the polls. Really, Donald, go right ahead.