Christopher Beam writes on Slate.com:
First came the “birthers.” Now, as President Obama makes a final push for health care reform, we have the deathers.
Many senior citizens are concerned that health care reform would mean cuts to Medicare. That much was clear at a town-hall meeting hosted Tuesday by the American Association of Retired Persons at which Obama fielded questions from seniors who don’t want to give up their benefits.
But one question stood out. It addressed what the host from the AARP called the “infamous” Page 425 of the House health care bill. “I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that’s Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die,” said Mary from North Carolina. “This bothers me greatly, and I’d like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.” The host elaborated: “As I read the bill, it’s saying that Medicare will, for the first time, cover consultation about end-of-life care, and that they will not pay for such a consultation more than once every five years. This is being read as saying every five years you’ll be told how you can die.”
“Well, that would be kind of morbid,” Obama said.
The audience laughed. Many observers aren’t so amused. To them, the House bill and health care reform in general are the legislative equivalent of euthanasia.
“Obama’s not going to say, ‘Let’s kill them,’ ” says Charlotte Allen, a conservative commentator and author of The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus. “But he seems to be perfectly comfortable with the idea that a lot more old people are going to die a lot sooner.”
Deathers point to several parts of the House bill as evidence that health care reform means letting old people die. Most prominent is the end-of-life consultation provision mentioned above. An article on World Net Daily argues that the proposal “specifically calls for the consultation to recommend ‘palliative care and hospice’ for seniors in their mandatory counseling sessions.” In fact, the bill says the meeting must include “an explanation by the practitioner of the end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice”—not a recommendation of it. (Emphasis added.) Still, Obama pointed out that it’s not too late to remove the language: “If this is something that really bothers people, I suspect that members of Congress might take a second look at it.”
Another seemingly scary provision is one that permits “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration”—or, more accurately, the withholding of it. Betsy McCaughey, founder of the Committee To Reduce Infection Deaths and former lieutenant governor of New York, wrote an influential (and, to many, misleading) critique of Hillarycare in the New Republic 15 years ago. She told me that the provision is a disturbing example of the government making decisions for the patient. But the bill specifically says that an order to withhold, say, an IV drip, must be one that “effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual.” In other words, a doctor can’t make you do it.
Read the rest of the article here.