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How do I avoid Death Panels?

This one is easy. Do nothing. There ain’t none. They don’t exist, and never have.

“In spring 2009, bills for what eventually became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were being drafted in the House and Senate. A bipartisan group of representatives sponsored a provision in the House version of the bill (section 1233; 9 pages beginning on page 425) that would have authorized Medicare to pay doctors who counsel patients about living wills, advance directives, and options for end-of-life care. AARP endorsed the provision. However, pundits, bloggers, op-ed writers, talk show hosts, and other legislators claimed the provision would lead to government-sponsored euthanasia and heartless “death panels” that would adjudicate who shall live. The administration distanced itself from the proposal, which never found its way into the law.”

From Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life. Institute of Medicine, 2015.

This is a little bit like standing up in a school board meeting and shouting ‘I don’t believe in this initiative because I don’t support child pornography!’   Once the words are out in the air, the media grabs ahold and runs with it. Meanwhile, you have a well-intentioned school board member sitting there saying ‘I don’t support child pornography either, but what does that have to do with this initiative? This has absolutely nothing to do with child pornography.’ Too late. The implication is in the air and the association, while nonsensical, has been made in people’s minds.

No matter how one feels about PPACA, the deliberate association between a provision reimbursing doctors to discuss options and planning with their patients and ‘death panels’ was, to be kind, irresponsible. The claim of ‘death panels’ being part of the ACA was, in fact, so egregious that it was deemed Lie of the Year by Politfacts.


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