By Robert Romano
“Death panels” received renewed interest over the Christmas season in a New York Times piece by Robert Pear, “Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir.” The story outlines a new 691-page regulation that to puts into place end-of-life counseling, called “advanced care planning,” via the Medicare program.
The regulation is provided for “in the case where an injury or illness causes the individual to be unable to make health care decisions”. This is essentially a living will where the patient and the doctor would come to a determination about what to do if a patient became incapacitated. This provision was originally removed in the Senate version of the bill after public outcry emerged, spearheaded by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
That it has reappeared in regulation after being rejected by Congress is troubling, and has renewed worries that such “counseling” could be utilized to coerce seniors into foregoing life-sustaining treatments. That is certainly cause for concern, but may only be the tip of the iceberg for “death panels”.
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