by the Left Coast Rebel
Even if grandma narrowly escaped being run over by a reindeer this Christmas, she may still suffer a worse New Years day fate.
Death panels are back in the news, surprisingly exposed the day after Christmas in the Sunday pages of the New York Times:
With news today of Obama inserting death panels through regulation, it should be patently obvious why the Clintonian phrase triangulation (ie. "compromise") has been banned in the White House.
(NY Times)- When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.
Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.
Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.
While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.
- Think of end-of-life counseling from the Obama White House as carrots dangled in front of doctors, financial "incentives" for doctors to discuss “options” for end-of-life care. As stated in the NYT, that may "include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment," or a continuance of Obama's "take this pill and go home" solution to medical costs.
- Under this new regulatory regime, doctors could ostensibly be the pawns of cost-curve-bending bureaucrats. To put this into perspective, ponder a Greece-like meltdown of our financial system/government in the future and the way then that these rules would be implemented. Better yet, think of this amount of power held in the wrong hands. How would the elderly be "counseled" during a time of national crisis? Moral hazard? Who determines that doctors have pure motives, instead of purely financial motives as they counsel in end-of-life situations?
- Team Obama (has again) done a complete 180 degree turn on the American people, going behind the back of both the American public and the Democrat-controlled Congress that took the death panel language out the legislation due to public outcry.
- Obama has been able to insert the death panel regulations due to the ambiguous "the Secretary shall determine" language that appears five times in the final 2000 page Senate version of Obamacare giving the "Secretary" (in this case, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius) the ability to implement (at their discretion) such a rule. The end-of-life regulation was finalized in November, brought to light the day after Christmas, and takes effect January 1, 2011. How's that for transparency, hope and change?
- The regulation is yet another example that Obamacare is simply the skeleton template of socialized, government-run health care. As Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection states, "Obamacare simply is the infrastructure. The details and the demons will be worked out in regulations." The end-of-life regulation is such a detail and demon.
- Is this necessary? If so, why? Physicians can be compensated for counseling already. Why single out this issue?
- Do we know that patients and their families will make better decisions if more end-of-life decisions are made far in advance? (As opposed to when the end-of-life issues are at hand, and perhaps more clear).
- Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician's Assistants (PAs) will be paid for end-of-life counseling. But NPs and PAs may have little or no training in aggressive end-of-life resuscitation. Should NPs and PAs be participating in this counseling?
- Will families be adequately educated on the reversibility of end-of-life orders?
- Is the term "orders regarding life sustaining treatment" a misleading euphemism for "Do-not-resussitate" (DNR) orders"?
- Does the government have a conflict of interest? (Saving money with more DNR orders)
"Spooky Dudes" behind end-of-life Medicare "incentives":
- Dr. Donald M. Berwick, Obama's recess-appointed administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A self-admitted Marxist and cheerleader for British socialized medicine, Dr. Berwick signed the new Medicare rule and has long argued for "end-of-life planning."
- The Chief Spooky Dude himself - President Barack Obama. Obama kept this insidious regulation a secret and is more insistent of grandma facing a grinning doctor death panel then defending anything that makes America great. Imagine if this man fought for liberty as fervently as he obviously fought for this onerous issue and other visions of his American dystopian future.
- Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, vocal proponent of end-of-life government involvement. Blumenauer's office celebrated the end-of-life move by Obama yet spookily expressed the need to "keep things quiet" (taken from the New York Times below):
Representative Blumenauer's office shows the Democrat's Obamacare hand in the New York Times email. First, note the need to keep this private as not to alarm the public. Second, note that Blumenauer's office clearly sees in the new Republican congress a threat to modify or reverse Obama's death panel regulation and perhaps Obamacare itself.
After learning of the administration’s decision, Mr. Blumenauer’s office celebrated “a quiet victory,” but urged supporters not to crow about it.
“While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Mr. Blumenauer’s office said in an e-mail in early November to people working with him on the issue. “This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”
Moreover, the e-mail said: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”
Let's make certain that the first concern from Rep. Blumenauer's office transpires and that we scream from rooftops to inform the public of this incredible backdoor infringement. Let us also hope that the 112th Congress has not only the sense but the bravery and backbone to perform the latter, the most important thing the 112th was sent to Washington for; to defund and snuff out the historical mistake that is Obamacare.
In doing so, the 112th will ensure that grandma (and all of us, eventually) aren't defunded or conveniently snuffed-out as well.
It is simply breathtaking to witness the brevity of those that so loathe and despise the invisible hand, on one hand; so insistently embrace the statist finger waving in your face with the other hand.
Always watch the other hand.