Krauthammer Debunks ‘Death Panel’ Claim
Suggesting that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin “leave the room” in the debate over end-of-life counseling, conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer today takes on the accusation that the Democrats’ strategy for health reform would create government-backed committees to euthanize seniors, as Palin has charged.
[T]here are no “death panels” in the Democratic health-care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate.
With his comments, Krauthammer joins an ever-growing list of conservative commentators and health policy experts who’ve blasted the “death panel” claims as inaccurate, malicious or both.
What the Democrats bill does — and what some Republicans have supported in the past — is to have Medicare pay doctors for late-life decision-making services when patients request such counseling. That means it’s exactly 100 percent voluntary.
Krauthammer doesn’t like the idea, arguing that the effect of the “chats” will be “to gently point the patient” toward choosing death over the expensive treatments that might prolong life for just a few months.
[W]hy get Medicare to pay the doctor to do the counseling? Because we know that if this white-coated authority whose chosen vocation is curing and healing is the one opening your mind to hospice and palliative care, we’ve nudged you ever so slightly toward letting go.
This is an odd remark, which seems (1) to question the wisdom of the doctors who do this counseling, (2) to toss doctors into the same mythical category of government bureaucrats hell-bent on killing off seniors to save costs, and (3) to doubt the ability of patients to make their own decisions based on the advice they’re given.
Still, Krauthammer, who is a psychiatrist, adds that the proposal is “not an outrage,” and “it’s surely not a death panel.”
It’s safe, at this point, to place those claiming otherwise squarely in the category of folks trying to kill health care reform, rather than debate it.