“Death panels” lie prevents dying with dignity

WASHINGTON — When Congress made its foolish 2005 foray   into the heartbreaking case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman kept alive for years in a vegetative state, I called my brother to reiterate my end-of-life directives. “Don’t let Mom interfere,” I told him sternly, knowing that parents can be irrational about letting go of a dying child.

My mother, however, is clear-eyed about her own demise. She, too, has assigned to my brother her medical care power of attorney, giving him legally-protected decision-making authority should she become too ill to issue instructions to a doctor.

Apparently, my mother and I are unusual. Though the certainty of death is one of the few things shared by every human, we tend to put off thinking about it. According to the Pew Research Center, only 29 percent of Americans reported having living wills in a 2006 poll. Even fewer have gone as far as my mother and I  — appointing a health care proxy.

Oddly, a loud and ill-informed band of activists has organized to make sure that Americans continue to procrastinate about end-of-life directives. In what has to be one of the strangest political battles fought in modern times, a motley assortment of Obama-haters, rightwing conspiracy theorists and Republican politicians have joined to ensure that more families struggle through painful Schiavo-like situations.

You may remember the infamous “death panels” fabrication, which reverberated through the political landscape in 2009. It was a falsehood jerry-rigged to a perfectly sane proposal — that Medicare pay doctors to ask patients a few questions: Have you thought about end-of-life directives? Do you want a living will?

The policy sought to take advantage of the great weakness of our health care system: it pays doctors for procedures, not outcomes. Given that, doctors would be more likely to raise the subject with patients if they were paid for the time they spent. If experience is any guide, patients are less likely to bring it up themselves. But any patient’s participation would have been purely voluntary. No one would have been forced to have the conversation.

From that thoughtful policy change, Sarah Palin and others spread the “death panels” lie, persuading millions of Americans that the federal government would empanel bureaucrats to decide when to “pull the plug on Granny.”

Because the falsehood proved so powerful, Democrats eliminated the end-of-life counseling provision from the health care reform bill passed last March. Medicare administrator Donald Berwick tried to resurrect the provision through a

directive from his office late last year, but he was overruled recently by Obama administration officials who feared more political controversy.

How sad. The irony is this: A failure to prepare for the inevitability of death ensures that doctors, nurses and hospital administrators will end up making end-of-life decisions for countless terminally ill patients. If patients feared losing their autonomy — the right to make a highly-charged and personal decision for themselves — they should have welcomed the new Medicare initiative. It makes sense to confront those matters while you’re still healthy enough to think clearly.

According to research published in the British Medical Journal, “Advance care planning improves end-of-life care and patient and family satisfaction and reduces stress, anxiety and depression in surviving relatives.” The research only confirms what common sense suggests.

When my father learned he had colon cancer— he was only 57 — he didn’t have much time to think about whether he wanted doctors to pursue extraordinary measures to keep him alive. His cancer had metastasized by the time it was discovered. He was dead seven weeks after diagnosis.

But he was fully cognizant — clear-headed and alert — for most of those final days, and he used the time wisely and well. He wrapped up duties at the church where he had served as a deacon for decades. He said good-bye to his children.

And he told my mother in no uncertain terms that he was ready to face the end. He wanted no extraordinary interventions. “Put me in a blue casket,” he said.

It was hard enough to lay my father to rest under those circumstances. I simply cannot imagine how painful it would have been if he been too sick to tell us how he wanted to die.

247 comments Add your comment

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:23 pm

“creating a another generation of poorly educated Americans puts our nation and our way of life in grave danger.”

Then why do you want to leave education in the hands of the same liberal moonbats who have spent the last generation wrecking it?

ButtHead

January 7th, 2011
4:24 pm

Kamchack
Nancy Pelosi say it….

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:26 pm

“I know….it’s like a conservative preaching fiscal responsibility!”

I’m a conservative, and I’m quite confident I have invested wisely and set aside quite enough to live comfortably in my retirement, without benefit of government programs or handouts. You?

They BOTH suck

January 7th, 2011
4:27 pm

@BH

Bills are written and influenced by lobbyists ALL the time……..
Nothing new.. Fox and the pundits would have one believe that this only plays out when Dems are in power. Repubs do the same thing. It is great to watch both sides accuse the other of what they do themselves and than get their constituencies to bash the other Party………… Hypocritical but very funny…..

When you have a few minutes look up the history of insurance companies not being able to sell across state lines……… In most cases the insurance industry lobbies on state and national levels to have the laws put in place than had their lobbyists cry to the Repubs so they would make a big deal out of it when the health care debate was going on.
And many on the right without doing any homework believe or at least potray that this is some elaborate left wing plan to keep down competition. THE INDUSTRY WANTED THIS. It allows certain companies to take HUGE segments in of the market in certain states. Yes they miss out in other areas but make up for it in other states.

Look up Blue Cross and the recent article where doctors are complaining about them having TOO much of the market here in GA

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:27 pm

“Damn the GOP for years of education cuts.”

Prove it.

Kamchak

January 7th, 2011
4:29 pm

Kamchack
Nancy Pelosi say[sic] it….

No, she really didn’t.

ButtHead

January 7th, 2011
4:29 pm

Granny,
You really like to be consistently incorrect, please Google those words, she is on camera saying “We have to pass it to see what is in it.” I am not sure what you believe you heard or what you think she said… but those are her exact words…So again who did NOT read the bill that was supposed to be online for 72 hours before a vote, are you going to tell me they put it online before the vote now?

They BOTH suck

January 7th, 2011
4:31 pm

@HC

From FOX website 12/4/05
Took all of 25 seconds… Do YOUR homework…………
Next

Congress Approves Education Cuts

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

* Print
* ShareThis

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers voted Wednesday to cut federal aid to education for the first time in a decade as the House narrowly passed a spending bill that would freeze or cut back a wide variety of domestic programs.

The $602 billion measure covers education, health research, and medical and job training programs, among others. After years of budget increases, the measure essentially imposes a 1 percent cut to programs funded at lawmakers’ discretion, providing $142.5 billion for them. The rest of the funding in the bill represents mandatory payments, chiefly for the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

ButtHead

January 7th, 2011
4:31 pm

TBS
So that is OK with you? Lobbing should be illegal…

ButtHead

January 7th, 2011
4:31 pm

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:32 pm

from the Heritage Foundation…

“Many people believe that lack of funding is a problem in public education,[10] but historical trends show that American spending on public education is at an all-time high. Between 1994 and 2004, average per-pupil expenditures in American public schools have increased by 23.5 percent (adjusted for inflation). Between 1984 and 2004, real expenditures per pupil increased by 49 percent.[11] These increases follow the historical trend of ever-increasing real per-student expenditures in the nation’s public schools. In fact, the per-pupil expenditures in 1970-1971 ($4,060) were less than half of per-pupil expenditures in 2005-2006 ($9,266) after adjusting for inflation.[12] “

They BOTH suck

January 7th, 2011
4:33 pm

@BH

You are making some valid points and Kam is surely confused, but in the end if (when) the SC allows the law or at least most of it to stand, what Pelosi said or didn’t say will not matter

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:33 pm

They BOTH Suck…

…or maybe you should do YOUR homework…

granny godzilla

January 7th, 2011
4:33 pm

Butt Head

as in pass it though the senate…..

please think

please please think

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:35 pm

If true that a 1% cut happened in 2005, 1% of $9,266 is $92.66 per student. So we’ve still doubled our spending and out kids still don’t know jack.

By the way, you and granny are the poster children for the failure of public education in this country.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:36 pm

Granny, Kammy…

Pelosi said it. She really did. PLEASE think.

granny godzilla

January 7th, 2011
4:36 pm

Anyway All,

It’s friday night family steak night and there are potatoes to peel and and tables to be pushed together and set….

Hope you all have a good weekend and watch out for that storm coming in Sunday.

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:37 pm

Hey granny…you and your Pops still spreading that gross lie about Bush I’s military service?

what pathetic little hate-mongers you are…

They BOTH suck

January 7th, 2011
4:37 pm

@BH

Didnt say lobbying was ok, however it is being naive or dishonest to think that the Repubs do not do the same exact thing. We can argue all day who does it the most, etc but in the end it is done for bills that split Party lines and for bills that are nonpartisan and have support from both-sides.

Obama was stupid to speak out against lobbyist in his campaign. Both Parties take their money, employ them and in many cases become lobbyist when their political careers are over.

I say they have too much influence, but DC isn’t listening to me the last time I checked

They BOTH suck

January 7th, 2011
4:39 pm

@HC

Do not be mad at me because you wanted it proved and within seconds I posted what YOU thought wasn’t true from your favorite ‘news’ source

james

January 7th, 2011
4:40 pm

granny- under contract for 50+ year inner city ymca plus 5 acres surrounding. Will start developing an inner city rec and learning center with two new restaurant franchises in a distressed area. on a marta line that is under utilized but will be key to hiring 50-100 disabled and disadvantaged workers. stay tuned and “how do you like them apples?”

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:41 pm

@ sucks

Do not be mad because you think our schools are failing due to lack of funding, when in fact they are failing because they are run by incompetent liberals.

Harry Callahan

January 7th, 2011
4:42 pm

james…facts are irrelevant to granny

They BOTH suck

January 7th, 2011
4:44 pm

@HC

man you love to make assumptions……… I NEVER said the education system was great or needed more funding. I simply proved you wrong in terms of cuts.

You can be mad or downplay it by bringing up something I didnt say or even imply if that make you feel better, but at least have the intellectual honesty to say you were wrong on that issue.

Kamchak

January 7th, 2011
4:45 pm

You are making some valid points and Kam is surely confused…

Not at all.

When using quotation marks, I believe it is imperative to be accurate.

The full quote: “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

Conservatives invariably leave out the word “you” making it seem that Ms. Pelosi doesn’t know what’s in the bill.

They BOTH suck

January 7th, 2011
4:46 pm

To everyone on this blog…………………………. Have a great weekend and if the snow does come in, please be careful if you are out and about……….
Peace

kevinbgoode

January 7th, 2011
5:09 pm

james sez: “let’s see- the US Constitution is too long and complicated for the libs ”
———————————————————-
Most Americans expect our elected representatives to already be familiar with the Constitution before running for Congress – instead of spending a cool million reading the document out loud on the House floor. Apparently the GOP didn’t learn from their circus performance during the Terri Schiavo fiasco that publicity stunts might seem great at the time, but end up leaving a lingering image of ignorance in the minds of the masses.

kevinbgoode

January 7th, 2011
5:11 pm

Henry Callahan sez: “I’m a conservative, and I’m quite confident I have invested wisely and set aside quite enough to live comfortably in my retirement, without benefit of government programs or handouts.”
——————————————————————–
The entire idea of investment is to receive a “handout” from someone – the money doesn’t grow on trees. Don’t conservatives believe in working hard even in retirement and, if not, then why should they be entitled to be wealthy?

kevinbgoode

January 7th, 2011
5:13 pm

Harry Callahan sez: “from the Heritage Foundation…”
——————————————————————————————–
And what is the Heritage Foundation’s agenda?

kevinbgoode

January 7th, 2011
5:16 pm

Harry sez: “Cynthia, why do we as individuals, or our families, need to be prepared to make these decisions when Obama and his thug liberal cohorts intend to make them for us?”
——————————————————————
On now, Harry – you certainly don’t mind insurance companies making these decisions for us, one way or the other. After all, how else are conservatives going to get the appropriate return on their investment so they can secure their entitlement of a “no-handout” retirement?

pajama pants

January 7th, 2011
5:39 pm

repubs love death, they get off on it

wtf?

January 7th, 2011
5:41 pm

logical dude – i’m glad it saved your life, but if you research it, there has been mishandling of organ donations at many steps along the way, and decisions have been made based on someone’s judgement of whom deserves to live more…..i’m just stating facts……it’s human nature and the people who run hospitals are not perfect……..my personal feeling is, why risk it? You only get one life. Why let a stranger have even a 1/1000 chance of being partial to someone else who ‘needs’ an organ more than you.

Again Logical Dude, I’m glad it worked out for you, but your case alone doesn’t prove the system is 100% perfect.

wtf?

January 7th, 2011
5:44 pm

Logical dude – BTW – I’m all for stem cell research to aid in organ replacement, so we wouldn’t have an organ shortage, you can’t put a lid on technology, history has proved that, so hopefully this issue will improve in the near future and the bible thumpers won’t stand in the way…kudos to Obama on this issue

[...] responsible and you can’t sue us.” That’d go over well with all the people screeching about Death Panels, wouldn’t [...]

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

January 7th, 2011
6:32 pm

The government has already denied care to those who wanted it, this decision being made by a panel and based on cost, so babble on Queen Pinko, babble on.

In ignorance.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

January 7th, 2011
6:40 pm

The FDA has, however, been more frugal with taxpayer funds when they are to be spent on treating seriously ill patients. Last July, the FDA announced that it was about to take the anti-cancer drug Avastin “off-label.” Such a decision effectively denies patients access to the drug involved because the off-label designation provides Medicare and other health insurers with a pretext to stop paying for it. For Avastin, which is used to treat breast cancer, this travesty was originally scheduled to take place in September. But, in an incredibly cynical political decision, the FDA delayed implementation until after the midterm elections. In December, however, they took Avastin off-label. Thus, as Dr. Milton Wolf phrases it in the Washington Times, “For the first time in our history, the government has banned the use of a cancer drug based not on its safety or even efficacy, but on its financial cost.”

These liberals are creepy little people.

Keep up the good fight!

January 7th, 2011
6:47 pm

Whiner…you mean the STATE REPUBLICAN GOVT of ARIZ has created its own death panel, proving that the means already exists and had absolutely nothing to do with the real provisions in healthcare reform. Babble on Whiner

Keep up the good fight!

January 7th, 2011
6:53 pm

Whiner…are you ever going to post something that is not skewed and a lie. From CNN:

The controversial drug Avastin should be phased out as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday, citing recent studies that show its benefits may be outweighed by dangerous side effects.

Maybe you are suffering side effects. Them Whiners are creepy ignornant people.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

January 7th, 2011
7:23 pm

Keep UpChuk the Food Fight!-

Both the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance have sent letters to the FDA urging it not to revoke approval. They rightly believe that treatment decisions should remain exclusively in the hands of individual patients and their doctors. After all, those are the people best positioned to weigh costs and benefits and decide which course of treatment is best.

Let’s see here, you can have a risk of a stomach perforation or you can die a certain death from breast cancer, hmmmmmmm, I wonder what most women would decide, gee, gosh.

Or we can let mouth breathers like Food Fight make these decisions for us, just sayin….

Nothing Is Free

January 7th, 2011
7:30 pm

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin…

Be careful. He’s been here for yet another full ten hour day of trying desperately to make himself feel better about his pathetic, blogging all day life.

Last night he had a complete meltdown and started accusing me of raping Black women.

Consider his family. Imagine dealing with him in person. Irrational, a chip on his shoulder as big as the sky and the mentality of a tantrum throwing 4 year old. And after a full day of being humiliated yet another full day and you have a domestic abuse call waiting to happen.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

January 7th, 2011
7:31 pm

By the way, I guess President Daley didn’t like the way things were going at the White House, so he appointed his brother to watch over Barakkk thee obozo, just sayin, hahahaha.

Kamchak

January 7th, 2011
7:39 pm

Wow.

Talk about obsessive.

:shock:

Keep up the good fight!

January 7th, 2011
7:47 pm

Nonsense…..do you really want to start again with your bully efforts and lies.. You wnt to attack my family and falsely claim, in true, Beck fashion, domestic abuse. Lets be very clear. You want to make false personal allegations about my family and my relationship, then you are truly the low-life scum trolll that everyone knows. You had the chance to move on this morning but now you want to have another go at me personally.

Nothing is Free, why wont you deny that you did not rape a woman and sleep with your mother. I mean I dont believe you did it and I have no evidence but you have none for your claims and you continue to repeat them as if they were true, so in direct parody of your Beck style, why oh why wont you just deny that you did not rape a woman and have sex with your mother. You whine that you dont like this but you continue your tantrum and over the line style when CT is not here to ban you like the troll you really are. Just deny it Nonsense.

And if anyone wants the truth about yesterday and not Nothing’s lies…here’s the link Oh and lets be clear…I never said anything about a black woman…your racism is showing again.

Get Real

January 7th, 2011
7:53 pm

kevinbgoode January 7th, 2011 5:11 pm

“The entire idea of investment is to receive a “handout” from someone – the money doesn’t grow on trees. Don’t conservatives believe in working hard even in retirement and, if not, then why should they be entitled to be wealthy?”

Are you kidding me? Were you in a head on collision and the air bag failed to deploy? I plan to be quite active in retirement if I can ever get there but your statements are insane. Perhaps you meant it in jest, we can only hope…

Keep up the good fight!

January 7th, 2011
8:00 pm

Does anyone have a can of Troll B Gon handy?

Get Real

January 7th, 2011
8:02 pm

Wow, just read all the recent posts….

Looks like its Friday Night Fights….

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE….

Kamchak

January 7th, 2011
8:03 pm

I think someone has a man-crush on you, Keep.

Eeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Keep up the good fight!

January 7th, 2011
8:04 pm

Real…yep. I did not start the fight but I plan to finish it.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

January 7th, 2011
8:06 pm

(CNN) – The number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats is at its lowest point in seven years, according to a new survey by Gallup – a warning sign for the president and his party as the next race for the White House gets set to begin.

Yeah and how many of them are brainwashed, hahahahaha.

Keep up the good fight!

January 7th, 2011
8:06 pm

Troll crush, more likely. Is there an app to crush trolls?