Aug 12, 2009

Physicians to provide terminally ill Medicare patients end-of-life counseling.

The Statement:

The health-care bill now before the House of Representatives requires doctors to encourage the elderly to give up medical care "because you're no longer a working citizen who will be paying taxes," as one woman put it at a meeting with Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter on Tuesday. That claim has been spread through a variety of sources, from radio talk shows and e-mail to a Facebook message from former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who vowed never to let government "death panels" determine whether her parents or her infant son — who has Down syndrome — were "worthy of health care."

(Get the facts and the verdict after the jump)

The "60 Plus Association," a group led by singer Pat Boone, warns in ads that if the House bill passes, "The government, not doctors, will decide if older patients are worth the cost." And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich defended Palin during appearance on ABC's "This Week," saying the Obama administration is "asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there clearly are people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia."

The Facts:

What the critics are citing is Section 1233 of a 1,000-page version of the bill now before the House of Representatives. The provision, located nearly halfway through the bill, would require Medicare to pay doctors for consultations with patients about "advance care planning," such as the drafting of living wills. Those consultations would include "an explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice."

Critics say that the health bill would lead to rationed care, giving the government an incentive to deny treatment to the elderly in favor of healthier, more productive people — and that Section 1233 is meant to encourage seniors to give up treatment and die.

But the American Medical Association, which has endorsed the bill, says it "would not mandate that patients take advantage of this benefit."

"The new Medicare benefit would allow doctors to be compensated for such consultations every five years, and more frequently if a patient has a life-limiting illness or health status changes," the organization says.

And the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization says the consultations would be voluntary, not mandatory.

"No one is required to undergo the consultation," the organization says.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, opposes the House bill and the proposal put out by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. But he got similar language added to the Senate bill, which would allow patients enrolled in Medicare's long-term care program to seek their own consultations on drafting living wills and obtaining powers of attorney, and called comparisons of end-of-life consultations to euthanasia "nuts" during a recent interview with the Washington Post.

The Verdict?
False. As Specter put it Tuesday, "That's a vicious, malicious, untrue rumor."
Thanks to CNN

False? Read the following article:

The version of President Obama's universal health care plan pending in the U.S. House would require "end-of-life" counseling for senior citizens, and the former lieutenant governor for the state of New York is warning people to "protect their parents" from the measure.

At issue is section 1233 of the legislative proposal that deals with a government requirement for an "Advance Care Planning Consultation."

Betsy McCaughey, the former New York state officer, told former president candidate Fred Thompson during an interview on his radio program the "consultation" is no more or less than an attempt to convince seniors to die.

"One of the most shocking things is page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory absolutely that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session," she said. "They will tell [them] how to end their life sooner."

The proposal specifically calls for the consultation to recommend "palliative care and hospice" for seniors in their mandatory counseling sessions. Palliative care and hospice generally focus only on pain relief until death.

The measure requires "an explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title."

It also recommends a method for death: "the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration."

Then there's a third reference that sets out reporting requirements for doctors to monitor how such end-of-life orders are followed.

Under "QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE," the bill says, "For purposes of reporting data on quality measures for covered professional services furnished during 2011 and any subsequent year, to the extent that measures are available, the Secretary shall include quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if appropriate. Such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life-sustaining treatment."

McCaughey said she was stunned.

"As a patient advocate I am so shocked at the vicious assault on elderly people and the boomer generation," she told Thompson. "I hope people listening will protect their parents from what is intended under this bill."

She cited the federal provision that such counseling sessions must be administered every five years. If there's a significant change in the person's health or status during that time, such as an ordinary move to a nursing home because of declining physical abilities, the counseling must be administered again.

The message, she said, is "to do what's in society's best interests, and cut your life short."

"Can you imagine the response of the American people (when they find out)?" Thompson asked..

McCaughey is a health policy expert who founded to stop hospital-acquired infections as well as concerning the proposed nationalization of health care.

The law also allows preferences that treatment levels set up by patients "may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all … interventions."

McCaughey also said the Obama administration is suggesting that medical care be withheld from seniors based on the expected years they have left to live. Such a program already is in effect in the United Kingdom, where patients losing their eyesight to age-related macular degeneration cannot be given an eyesight-saving medication until they lose sight in one eye.

Thanks you for reading and please subscribe and donate.