Sean Hannity believes it. So does House Minority Leader John Boehner. Talk show host Fred Thompson calls it “the dirty little secret” of the health care reform debate.
The focus of their ire is a provision tucked deep inside the House bill that would provide Medicare coverage for an end-of-life consultation once every five years. If a person falls ill with a life-threatening disease, more frequent sessions would be allowed.
Republicans are now using this language as a wedge between senior citizens and Democrats. Boehner and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) issued a statement last week saying it “may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia” — even though the concept behind the provision has been embodied in federal law since 1990 and has been promoted by Republicans and Democrats for years.
The government has long encouraged medical providers to discuss such life and death issues with patients. Congress passed the Patient Self-Determination Act in 1990, requiring health care agencies, including hospitals and long-term care facilities to give patients information on state laws regarding advance directives such as a living will. It also requires those agencies to ask whether patients have an advance directive and to follow what they stipulate, according to the American Cancer Society.
In 2003, under the Bush administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality issued a 20-page report outlining a five-part process for physicians to discuss end-of-life care with their patients.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) teamed up with Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a physician, to introduce a stand-alone bill this year that is replicated in the House health reform bill. Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) worked with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on similar language in the Senate, [vice president for public policy and counsel at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Jon] Keyserling said.
Blumenauer went to the House floor Friday to challenge Boehner’s statement that the provision “could create a slippery slope for a more permissive environment for euthanasia, mercy-killing and physician-assisted suicide, because it does not clearly exclude counseling about the supposed benefits of killing oneself.”
“I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to see this type of reaction to a carefully crafted piece of legislation we have been working on for more than six months that is bipartisan and that speaks to the needs of American families,” Blumenauer said. “The American public, especially our senior citizens, deserve our best efforts to meet their needs — not treat them like political footballs.”
From THINK PROGRESS:
In a speech on the House floor this afternoon [July 10th], Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) railed against health care reform. Specifically, Broun attacked the idea of a public plan, saying “this program of ‘government option’ is being touted as being the panacea, the savior of allowing people to have quality health care at an affordable price is gonna kill people.”
From The Westside Gazette:
“Last week, Democrats released a health care bill which essentially said to America’s seniors: drop dead,” stated Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, Floor Speech, U.S. House of Representatives July 21, 2009
The following statement was issued today by Tony Fransetta, President of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans:
“Rep. Brown-Waite’s remarks earlier this week were not only inappropriate and inaccurate, but they were a misleading and divisive attempt to scare Florida’s seniors in the current debate over national healthcare reform.
“My message to Rep. Brown-Waite is this: when your political passion is greater than your ability to be sensible, responsible, or even honest, you have a serious credibility issue. This should be about the healthcare Floridians need, not politics.
“As someone who represents more Medicare beneficiaries than any other member of Congress, Rep. Brown-Waite is unfortunately choosing political scare tactics over the pressing needs of her constituents.
“Not only do Florida retirees have a lot at stake in the health care debate, but we also worry about our children and grandchildren in these difficult times. Working together, we can create a healthcare reform plan that helps all Americans. There is no place in this debate for Rep. Brown-Waite’s politics of divide and conquer.”
The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, nonpartisan organization advocating for the rights and well being of more than 216,000 members and their families. It is a state affiliate of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national grassroots organization to advance public policy that protects the health and economic security of older Americans.
From MEDIA MATTERS:
On July 28, 2009, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) stated on the floor of the House that the Republicans’ health care reform legislation, unlike that of the Democrats, would not put seniors “to death.” Besides being a reprehensible accusation, her words are blatantly false.
Rep. Foxx: The Republican plan would “make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”
(video at link)
From THINK PROGRESS:
Last Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) joined radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his radio talk show for an interview.
During the 30-minute interview about “nation ending stuff,” Gohmert used his opportunity on the Jones show to showcase his own odd anti-Obama conspiracy theories:
GOHMERT: We’ve been battling this socialist health care, the nationalization of health care, that is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They’ll put them on lists and force them to die early because they won’t get the treatment as early as they need. [...] I would rather stop this socialization of health care because once the government pays for your health care, they have every right to tell you what you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, where you live. [...] But if we’re going to pay 700 million dollars like we voted last Friday to put condoms on wild horses, and I know it just says an un-permanent enhanced contraception whatever the heck that is. I guess it follows that they’re eventually get around to doing it to us.
(audio of radio show at link)
From THINK PROGRESS:
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has taken a leading role in the Republican efforts to lie and fearmonger about the Democrats’ health care plans in hopes of killing it. Last May, Pence argued the public option “will deprive roughly 120 million Americans of their current health care coverage,” a claim PolitiFact.com deemed to be “false.”
Pence was at it again this morning on MSNBC. This time, he claimed that the House health care bill recently scored by the Congressional Budget Office “will literally cost nearly a trillion dollars in higher taxes.” Host Carlos Watson immediately jumped in. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” Watson interjected, “unless you’re looking at different data than I’m looking at, I don’t remember there being a trillion dollars in new taxes.” Pence said he was “rounding up,” and then later revised his figure to $800 billion.
Pence’s claims are indeed “out there” in that they aren’t true. In fact, the CBO’s preliminary estimate of the House bill said that its entire cost would be just over $1 trillion over 10 years. $540 billion of that (i.e. not $800 billion or $1 trillion) would be paid for with new taxes on the rich affecting just 1.2 percent of U.S. households. The rest of the bill would be fully offset by savings in Medicare and other health systems.
(video at link)
From Eric Cantor‘s website:
The American health care model is about choice. At its core, it’s about families having the ability to consult with their doctor and choose for themselves the quality health care that best meets their need. This is what distinguishes us and makes our system — however imperfect — stronger than those of nations such as Canada and Great Britain.
American families do not want their health decisions made by someone in the basement of the Health and Human Services building hundreds of miles away from their family member’s bedside. They don’t want to wait for weeks — or even months — on end to see a doctor of their choosing or to gain access to necessary treatments or cures.
According to a recent Washington Post poll, 83 percent of Americans are satisfied with the quality of their health care. Yet the nonpartisan Lewin Group predicts that two out of three Americans who get their health care through their employer would lose it under the House Democrat plan.
For example, seniors who have signed up for a Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan would fall victim to draconian funding cuts proposed by Congress. Millions of Americans who own health savings accounts will be at the mercy of a government bureaucrat given the power to determine whether an HSA qualifies as “acceptable coverage.” And new mandates for employers to provide insurance would unfairly harm small businesses without adequate help to meet the new costs.
The root of the problem is the House bill’s imposition of the so-called “government option.”
From The Washington Post:
The political battle over health-care reform is waged largely with numbers, and few number-crunchers have shaped the debate as much as the Lewin Group, a consulting firm whose research has been widely cited by opponents of a public insurance option.
To Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, it is “the nonpartisan Lewin Group.” To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an “independent research firm.” To Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is “well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country.”
Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest insurers.
More specifically, the Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician’s group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data.