Thursday, August 13, 2009

Comment on the 'Death Panel' Nonesense and Health Care

There is no ‘Death Panel’ provision in the proposed New Health Care Reform Bill sponsored by the Obama Administration. There is a provision to reimburse doctors for End of Life Counseling in the bill. There seem to be a basic series of misstatements about what constitutes a Living Will and the End of Life counseling. (See

A living will is an Advance Health Care Directive; a series of instructions given by individuals specifying what actions should be taken for their health in the event that they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. A living will is one form of advance directive, leaving instructions for treatment. Here’s how it works: a person while he/she is still healthy, and while still in his/her right mind (usually in conjunction with writing a will), assert what he wants to happen in the event he/she becomes incapacitated and in unable to communicate his choices. This occurs frequently in near death or coma situations.

A patient would naturally communicate with his doctor to get his advice on the potential seriousness of his illness, disease, abnormality in order to make an informed choice as to what steps need to be taken or not taken in the event that due to a health problem you become incapacitated and cannot communicate your wishes. For example, I have Polycystic Kidney Disease. Suppose someday, it progresses to the point that I am on dialysis, suffering from kidney failure, and I am not able to tell my doctor or my family what my wishes are in terms of attempting to keep me alive or letting me go if it is highly unlikely that I can be saved. I can make that decision in advance of such an occurrence so my family is not left to guess what my wishes would be. I can decide if I want a DNR order to appear in my chart (Do Not Resuscitate) or if I want every necessary medical step possible taken to attempt to keep me alive.

This is hardily the equivalent of the old Viking Funeral where we place grandma on a wooden raft, light it on fire, and bid her farewell, as some prominent Republican/Conservative/Neoconservative pundits would have you believe. There is no plot to kill the elderly in the Health Reform Bill.

To actively lie, misrepresent and misstate the facts on such an important issue, like the Health Care Reform, is despicable. To scare, frighten, and terrorize the elderly or seniors who are already fighting for their lives in some cases, is unforgivable.

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