Jul 30 2009

The lying

Published by at 8:48 pm under Oregon

Let’s call this what it is: Lying.

From a comment on a post by the Oregonian‘s Charles Pope: “I would not believe anything that Blumenauer says. Obviously they want Senior Citizens to die earlier because they have a created a health plan that is going to ruin this country!”

The health care system in place right now is already in the process of bankrupting Americans by the millions and rationing health according to wealth, primarily in the interest of massive profits for specific industries. But put that aside.

What Representative Earl Blumenauer did was propose an idea reflective of the ongoing health care discussion in Oregon: To allow for a voluntary discussion between doctor and patient about end-of-life considerations and options. Note the words “allow” and “voluntary.”

Blumenauer’s description of what this is about:

Anti-health reform groups are misconstruing a provision of the legislation, which enjoys broad support in Congress, to provide coverage under Medicare for people to talk to their doctor about their wishes and care preferences at the end of life.

Such groups claim that advance care planning consultations include “euthanasia” and are “mandatory every five years.” These claims are blatantly false. Accusations that physicians would be required to “recommend a method for death” are as offensive as they are untrue.
I have been working on a bipartisan basis to ensure that patient wishes are known and respected. The provision included in H.R. 3200 simply allows Medicare to pay for a conversation between patients and their doctors if the patient wishes to speak about his or her preferences and values. This benefit would be purely voluntary, and patients do not need to have this consultation with their doctor if they do not wish to do so. The new Medicare benefit would allow doctors to be compensated for these conversations every five years, and more frequently if a patient has a life-limiting illness or health status changes.
Without these discussions, families often are not confronted with these difficult decisions until emergency situations arise, leaving spouses, sons, daughters and grandchildren unprepared because they do not know their loved ones’ preferences. As a result, families are left struggling to make decisions in the midst of turmoil. These are deeply personal decisions and they do not need to happen in crisis.
Doctors, nurses, and patient advocacy groups have supported our bipartisan effort to improve the quality of care for individuals facing their last chapter of life. I hope you will recognize the urgent need for improved communication around advance care planning, recognize the false claims against this provision, and support our efforts.

From here, this sounds sensible, and in fact has pretty broad support across party lines. But the torrent of fury unleashed by it has been a little astonishing. Blumenauer has posted a “myth vs facts” page which outlines a number of the myths. Among them: “Patients will be forced to have this consultation once every five years . . . Patients will be forced to sign an advance care directive (or living will). . . . Patients will have to see a health care professional chosen by the government.”

On that page, he didn’t even get to the stuff about government-ordered euthanasia, which is running around rampant. But he did mention it in a piece on the Huffington Post, and no, it didn’t come from the outer fringes, but from a Republican member of Congress, North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx who said in that in contrast to Democratic proposals, the Republicans “would not put seniors in the position of being put to death by their government!”

The fear campaigns we saw in 1993 and 1994 was mild compared to the madness being unleashed now. How many people will recognize it for what it is? How many will buy into it?

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