One of the best fact-checks re health reform I’ve seen lately was just sent out by Ricardo Alonso-Zalvidar for the Associated Press:
Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says the health care overhaul bill would set up a “death panel.” Federal bureaucrats would play God, ruling on whether ailing seniors are worth enough to society to deserve life-sustaining medical care. Palin and other critics are wrong.
Nothing in the legislation would carry out such a bleak vision. The provision that has caused the uproar would instead authorize Medicare to pay doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care, if the patient wishes. Here are some questions and answers on the controversy:
Q: Does the health care bill promote “mercy killing,” or euthanasia?
Q: Then what’s all the fuss about?
And here’s where it all started:
A: A provision in the House bill written by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would allow Medicare to pay doctors for voluntary counseling sessions that address end-of-life issues. The conversations between doctor and patient would include living wills, making a close relative or a trusted friend your health care proxy, learning about hospice as an option for the terminally ill and information about pain medications for people suffering chronic discomfort.
The sessions would be covered every five years, more frequently if someone is gravely ill.
Alonso-Zaldivar covers all the basics in this brief, to-the-point article. My personal favorite opinion is also in there. It’s a comment made by Monsignor Charles Fahey, 76, a Catholic priest currently chairman of the board of the National Council on Aging:
“What I have said is that if I cannot say another prayer, if I cannot give or get another hug, and if I cannot have another martini – then let me go.”
Maybe we should put that martini provision in the bill.