Everything You Need To Know About “Death Panels” (UPDATED)

From Greg Sargent:

Multiple Republican Leaders Voted In 2003 For Measure Similar To Current “Government Euthanasia” Bill

GOP officials John Boehner, Thaddeus McCotter, Johnny Isakson, and Chuck Grassley all voted in 2003 for a measure very similar to the one in the current House health care bill they now suggest in various ways could lead to government-encouraged euthanasia.

As Time’s Amy Sullivan reported late last night, Grassley voted for the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, which — ready? — provided coverage for “counseling the beneficiary with respect to end-of-life issues and care options, and advising the beneficiary regarding advanced care planning.”


Fun postscript: GOP Rep. John Mica of Florida voted for the 2003 bill — and last week he denounced the current House measure for creating Medicare-funded “death counselors.”

[Emphasis mine]

So all those conservatives–who have been in utter hysterics over proposals they say would lead to government-sponsored euthanasia and “death councils”–actually voted for a nearly-identical provision just 6 years ago.

So conservatives had no problem with these proposals back when they controlled Congress and a Republican was in the White House. In other words, all of this “death council” nonsense is nothing more than hollow, craven right-wing demagoguery designed to kill health care reform, just like nearly everything the right has done since Congress started writing this piece of legislation.

Then again, consider the source–one of the early backers of this myth was none other than Sarah Palin, the quitbull with lipstick, who also flip-flopped on end-of-life counseling.

You want to see a real death panel? Look into the boardroom of any major health insurance corporation–22,000 Americans die every year due to inadequate health care coverage, which is about 22,000 more people than end-of-life counseling would kill.

UPDATE: This is problematic:

Senate Democrats have given a seat at the bargaining table to a senator who first endorsed the “death panel” canard and is now going around hawking copies of Glenn Beck books.



  1. tiyh · August 16, 2009

    Would it be better if my daughter, who wants my money, advised me? Go to GoWish.org, print out your GOALS OF CARE and talk to your doctor about your desires whether he is paid for it or not! I hope this conversation INCREASES peoples’ discussion on end of life counseling with their doctors. The doctors would loose out because they aren’t paid for their time.

  2. dangoor · August 17, 2009

    Wouldn’t it be better for those who do not have greedy daughters to seek “death-counseling” on their own volition if they so chose to do?
    Any imposed propgram grows, death counseling will likely evolve into:

    Advising, that will become

    Suggesting, and inveriably


    Do you wish seniors to have their ultimate fate decided by a person who has no emotional involment with said seniors?
    Even a greedy daughter, one with love in her heart, would be better!
    Please leave it to seniors to seek the help they need.

  3. tiyh · August 17, 2009

    Seniors and others can seek the help they need, and make their own decions IF they have resources. The topic is difficult to bring up, and to carryout well. Doctors need training as do families. Mandated discussions would lead to more training and more familiarity and skill with the subject, so more people would be invovled to assist everyone to prepare for living well, according to their own goals, until the end.

  4. tiyh · August 17, 2009

    Also, if you believe we can leave the topic of end of life care to seniors to seek their own advise, why can we trust seniors to recognize when they are being “instructed” vs “advised?” I like the GoWish.org idea because the senior is assisted to focus on goals not procedures and they can access it themselves before talking with their doctor.

  5. dangoor · August 17, 2009

    You seem to feel that all seniors are senile; most of the one I encountered seemed quite bright and able to deal with their own end of life decisions.
    I am including my mother-in-law who died at 100, sister-in-law at 90, my father at 85, my best friend at 87, and the least goes own.
    Based on your writing, those I speak of seem at least as bright and competent as you are to live their lives as they please, as they should.
    Also, seniors should seek their own resources and not as you suggest have to recognize when they are advised, or instructed.
    You leave out the fact that when one is instructed one has no option (i.e. the former USSR, Cuba, etc.), when one is advised one can still provide and input and not follow the advice.

  6. dangoor · August 17, 2009

    One item, tiyh, we agree about, docotors need special training to be able to do death-sounseling, and it will take years before enough such creatures exist. If the health bill dealt with training and certifying of such doctors, it would have added merit.

    When there are enough such doctors then what the health plan can do is authorize the elederly and teminally ill to be the costs paid for visiting such doctors, but we are at least ten years away for such option to be viable.

  7. Democrashield · August 17, 2009

    “Please leave it to seniors to seek the help they need.”

    Holy strawman argument, Batman!

    There is no provision in any version of the health care reform bill before Congress that would mandate end-of-life counseling.

    The provision in question–which is being removed from the bill anyway–simply stated that, if seniors chose to receive voluntary end-of-life counseling, Medicare would cover it.

    There is not–and never was–any proposal before Congress that would have mandated end-of-life counseling. Conservatives took the voluntary end-of-life counseling provision and grossly misrepresented it as mandatory in order to create fear and stoke opposition to health care reform.

    Which is particularly hypocritical when you consider that, 6 years ago, some of those same conservatives supported a nearly-identical provision in a different bill.

    Nobody has–and nobody would–force seniors to receive that counseling against their will. The concept of government-mandated counseling or “death panels” is nothing but conservative misinformation designed to confuse and enrage people.

  8. dangoor · August 17, 2009

    You say: “…Nobody has-and nobody woulf-force seniors to receive counseling against their will.”

    I agree: This is simply the way it should be!

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