Debunking the "death panel" myth
9:51 AM Tue, Aug 11, 2009 | Permalink
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An AP story today does a great job of taking on Sarah Palin and others who allege that the health care bill in the House contains language about a "death panel" or some other government mandate on suicide counseling. This has been widely misunderstood and debunked.
We tackled this issue in a brief editorial a couple of weeks ago, and Dr. Robert Fine of Baylor took it on with an OPED on Saturday, but people are still confused (or deliberately trying to scare people.)
Yesterday, we had to pull a letter to the editor that said that the government would be involved in making decisions about how you would die. That's simply not true. The only government "involvement" is that Medicare would pay for such counseling between a patient and a hospital's lawyers/staff IF the patient sought that kind of service. This expense would be covered even if the person chooses to draw up papers stating wishes to be kept alive by machines for 50 years! It has nothing to do with suicide, which is illegal in almost every state in the nation.
I don't blame people who are actually confused because they have heard misinformation, although I expect a former VP candidate to have better access to information than most. But I cannot understand people who have now seen this information debunked who then go on to argue that, yeah, well, this is just the first step to a conspiracy to convince old people to die and get out of our way.