The Collective
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

If one is still concerned or confused as to the contents of the current House health care reform bill as it applies to end of life issues (a topic I touched on here), I would recommend the the following intereview that Ezra Klein did with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) (and please do note his party and the part of the country from which he hails).

The entire piece (Is the Government Going to Euthanize your Grandmother? An Interview With Sen. Johnny Isakson.) is worth a read, but the basics are captured in the following question and answer:

Is this bill going to euthanize my grandmother? What are we talking about here?

In the health-care debate mark-up, one of the things I talked about was that the most money spent on anyone is spent usually in the last 60 days of life and that’s because an individual is not in a capacity to make decisions for themselves. So rather than getting into a situation where the government makes those decisions, if everyone had an end-of-life directive or what we call in Georgia “durable power of attorney,” you could instruct at a time of sound mind and body what you want to happen in an event where you were in difficult circumstances where you’re unable to make those decisions.

This has been an issue for 35 years. All 50 states now have either durable powers of attorney or end-of-life directives and it’s to protect children or a spouse from being put into a situation where they have to make a terrible decision as well as physicians from being put into a position where they have to practice defensive medicine because of the trial lawyers. It’s just better for an individual to be able to clearly delineate what they want done in various sets of circumstances at the end of their life.

This is a far cry from a “death panel.” Indeed, I suspect many who are reading this have already discussed with their loved ones what they would want done in certain dire circumstances, and many may have living wills or other such documents. In point of fact a lot of people either never think about such things or simply don’t know they exist. The notion that Medicare might provide voluntary counseling about such issues is hardly marching the elderly into the sea because they are too expense to care for.

One may ultimately not like the procedures described in the House bill (Section 1233) or one may think that the government simply ought not be paying for these things (or any number of other objections) and those are legitimate points of discussion. There is a debate to be had here, but instead we are getting people claiming that health care reform will lead to government sanctioned death and news organizations are fanning those flames. It is utterly amazing and defies reason.

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5 Responses to “Throw Grandma from the (Health Care) Train? (”Death Panel” Edition)”

  1. Weezbo Says:

    Thanks for a sane post about the inflammatory issue about end-of-life decisions. I have a copy of the bill but I haven’t had time to read the parts on the subject.

    I’ve written on the question of health care reform. My post is at .


  2. Alabama Moderate Says:

    “Thanks for a sane post about the inflammatory issue about end-of-life decisions.”


    How on earth this sort of thing got misconstrued, I will never know.

  3. Jason Henderson Says:

    It’s pretty well beyond ridiculous to believe that anyone would print and release potential legislation to allow the government to march into grandma’s living room and drag her to a gas chamber because she’s retired and no longer “productive”. First off people would go to war over something that stupid (certainly Grandma) and second any government that is determined to murder it’s citizens wholesale is probably not that concerned with legislation to make it “legal”. So further debate on that claim should probably be dumped in the nearest dust bin.
    What constantly makes my Jaw drop is the complete lack of understanding many politicians have about the health care issue. They talk about availability, wait times, favorite doctors, keeping or losing insurance policies like these are serious concerns. I can’t lose my favorite doctor because I don’t have a doctor. I can’t afford one. I can’t afford insurance either. I quite simply can’t afford to be sick or injured. I am not concerned with waiting for treatment because treatment now, or later is out of my reach. If something can’t be cured with aspirin than I pretty much suffer through it. I don’t care if medicine is socialist, communist, fascist or anarchist because so long as it remains capitalist it might as well be unicorns since I will never see it. If I did get desperate enough to seek professional health care then it would be when I am at the brink of death. Of course care under those circumstances is even more expensive. One time is all it will take to ruin me. And lets face it. If someone has a severe illness even with insurance they might be in the same position. I am not rich but even those with a comfortable income can be easily bankrupted by health care cost. We Americans have by far the most expensive health care system on the planet and whether or not we have the highest quality of medicine (which we probably don’t), that quality means nothing if its unattainable.

  4. Alabama Moderate Says:

    To be honest, I can understand the complexity of the situation, but something that I’ve often argued is that we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel. There are other countries with government-run health care in place that, while not perfect, outperforms our system by leaps and bounds. I can understand that it’s not as simple as a cut and paste, but it’s definitely something to start from and work with to customize according to what we need.

    Then again, maybe I’m looking at this from a programmer’s perspective, and maybe I shouldn’t.

  5. Barry Says:

    Alabama Moderate Says:


    How on earth this sort of thing got misconstrued, I will never know.”

    Oh, it’s simple. A bunch of bought-and-paid for propagandists, Blue Dogs and GOP politicians made it up from whole cloth; a bunch of frankly stupid motherf*ckers believe it, because they want to (these would be the same people who think that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and who cheered on the entire Bush administration, only to suddenly rediscover limited government in 2009).

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