From Joan Walsh at Salon:
I’ve said this before: It’s getting past time for President Obama to spell out specifics about which healthcare reform plan he supports, given the five House and Senate bills and umpteen other proposals circling Washington. And unfortunately for Obama’s dreams of bipartisanism, it’s way past time for him to give up his hopes that he can bring “sensible” Republicans on board with a smart, fair bill.
I’ve suspected that was true for a while, but today is the day to, well, pull the plug on that project. Unbelievably, one GOP senator who’s been held up as a paragon of reason and bipartisan comity, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley — one of three Republicans negotiating with three Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee — trashed Obama’s plan today in terms that went beyond Sarah Palin’s ignorant rant.
“There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-of-life,” Grassley told a town hall crowd. “And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you’re going to die. You ought to plan these things out. And I don’t have any problem with things like living wills. But they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”
“You have every right to fear.” What a statesman! Where to start? There are at least five different healthcare reform bills vying for support, and their many provisions can be confusing, but there is not one sentence in any of the five that mandates either “death panels” or “pulling the plug on grandma” — and Chuck Grassley knows that much much better than I do.
From THINK PROGRESS (August 10, 2009):
Last week, Sarah Palin made the audacious claim that President Obama plans to institute a system of “death panels” where “bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of [people’s] ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.” Even some conservatives rejected Palin’s claim as “crazy.” Today on his radio show, however, Glenn Beck said that he thinks she has a point. ” I believe it to be true, but that’s quite a statement,” said Beck, adding, “I believe she at least should be listened to and you should question, ‘Is it evil?’”
Ezekiel Emanuel is a Health Policy Adviser at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and is a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research, but until last week, he had largely flown under radar of the national political media.
That changed when Rep. Michele Bachmann, R- Minn., made a statement from the floor of the House on July 27 in which she said the American public needed to know what the people who advise Obama about health care reform think. Specifically, she said, Dr. Emanuel “says medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled. So watch out if you’re disabled.”
Here’s what Bachmann said:
“The President’s adviser, Dr. Emanuel, believes communitarianism should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled. So watch out if you’re disabled.”
She noted that, “We just lost my father-in-law to dementia two months ago. I thank God that the doctors were able to alleviate my poor father-in-law’s symptoms at the end of his life at age 85. Apparently, under the Democrats’ health care plan, my father-in-law would not have received the high quality of care that he received in his last two months of life. Or if you’re a grandmother with Parkinson’s or a child with cerebral palsy, watch out.”
Some of Dr. Emanuel’s academic writing is confusing and hard to understand for non-academics. But Dr. Emanuel has also written extensively in more mainstream media – the Atlantic and Wall Street Journal, for example – about his opposition to euthanasia and his belief in appropriate end-of-life care.
Here’s a quote from a Jan. 7, 1997, commentary written by Emanuel for the Wall Street Journal: “For the millions of others, legalizing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would be of no benefit. To the contrary, it would be a way of avoiding the complex and arduous efforts required of doctors and other health-care providers to ensure that dying patients receive humane, dignified care.”
But to make the sensational claim that Emanuel says health care should not be extended to the disabled is a gross distortion of his position, lifted out of context from an academic paper in which he poses philosophical ideas but doesn’t necessary endorse them. Emanuel’s hefty medical record also counts for something, as well his unequivocal public position against euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. We rule Bachmann’s statement False.
For more than decade in Congress, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer has been known for his ever-present bow-tie and tireless advocacy of bikes.
So it is something of a surprise to the Portland Democrat that he has earned a new measure of fame in recent days – as author of a health-care provision that some critics say would set up a “death panel.”
In a widely quoted Facebook posting, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin charged that federal bureaucrats would play God, ruling on whether ailing seniors or children with Down syndrome – such as Palin’s son Trig – are worthy of health care. Palin called the proposal “downright evil.”
Many news organizations – including The Associated Press – debunked Palin’s claim.
But Blumenauer says he is astounded that Palin and other critics have not tempered their bleak descriptions of the health care bill.
“It’s deliberate at this point,” Blumenauer said of Palin’s failure to correct her Aug. 7 Facebook posting. “If she wasn’t deliberately lying at the beginning, she is deliberately allowing a terrible falsehood to be spread with her name.”
Blumenauer singled out another prominent Republican, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, saying he has “linked arms with Sarah Palin and death panels.” While Gingrich has not used the term death panel, he has declined several opportunities to denounce Palin’s claim.
“You are asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there are clearly people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards,” Gingrich said Sunday on the ABC’s “This Week.”
Blumenauer called the comments despicable and part of an orchestrated effort by Republicans to discredit the health care overhaul and scare seniors.
From Talking Points Memo (August 12, 2009):
RNC Chairman Michael Steele just appeared on the Neil Cavuto show, where he endorsed Sarah Palin’s accusation that President Obama will set up “death panels” to decide who is worthy or not of medical care.
“Well I think it’s proper,” said Steele, when Cavuto asked him about Palin’s remarks, “because it’s in the context of what people are seeing in some of the legislation that’s floating around out there. When you’re talking about panels that are gonna be imposed, that will be making life-and-death decisions, that will be making decisions about whether or not you get health care or don’t receive health care, I think that’s perfectly appropriate.”
Now how you characterize it is a matter of interpretation,” he then added, “but it doesn’t change the fact that buried within a lot of this legislation is stuff that’s fairly onerous.”
This just in. From THE HILL:
The Senate Finance Committee will drop a controversial provision on consultations for end-of-life care from its proposed healthcare bill, its top Republican member said Thursday.
The committee, which has worked on putting together a bipartisan healthcare reform bill, will drop the controversial provision after it was derided by conservatives as “death panels” to encourage euthanasia.
“On the Finance Committee, we are working very hard to avoid unintended consequences by methodically working through the complexities of all of these issues and policy options,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. “We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”
“The bill passed by the House committees is so poorly cobbled together that it will have all kinds of unintended consequences, including making taxpayers fund healthcare subsidies for illegal immigrants,” Grassley said. The veteran Iowa lawmaker said the end-of-life provision in those bills would pay physicians to “advise patients about end-of-life care and rate physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care.
“Maybe others can defend a bill like the Pelosi bill that leaves major issues open to interpretation, but I can’t,” Grassley added.
So there ya go, kids, the health care reform bill will be dictated on Twitter by the idiots on the fringe.