Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Obama Wants to Kill Old People!

As I’ve said many times, the right has a serious problem with Obama. The issues they can really go after him about are issues that they mostly agreed with him about, which leaves them having to invent absurd things to criticize. For instance, did you know that he wants to tell old people to just crawl into a hole and die? I didn’t either. But the right wing media is relentlessly pushing this ridiculous meme.

The Worldnutdaily has an article entitled Obamacare for old folks: Just ‘cut your life short’. It’s quite a display of hysteria and dishonesty, as one might expect. It’s all based on a provision in the House health care reform bill that provides for the elderly to get counseling on how to make sure their wishes are followed in the event of a terminal illness or accident that leaves them unable to communicate their wishes to the doctors.

Section 1223 of the bill deals with Advanced Care Planning Consultation and it sounds like a very good idea to me. It provides for senior citizens to have a consultation with their caregivers that covers what to do to prepare for the kinds of end-of-life scenarios that often leave families divided and court battles going on, as in the Terri Schiavo case. It says:

Such consultation shall include the following:

‘(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.

‘(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.

‘(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.

‘(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline, the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965).

‘(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.

‘(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders, which shall include–

‘(I) the reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual’s family and the reasons why such an order should be updated periodically as the health of the individual changes;

‘(II) the information needed for an individual or legal surrogate to make informed decisions regarding the completion of such an order;

‘(III) the identification of resources that an individual may use to determine the requirements of the State in which such individual resides so that the treatment wishes of that individual will be carried out if the individual is unable to communicate those wishes, including requirements regarding the designation of a surrogate decisionmaker (also known as a health care proxy).

So what does this mean to the wingnuts? Obama wants to kill off old people!

The version of President Obama’s universal health care plan pending in the U.S. House would require “end-of-life” counseling for senior citizens, and the former lieutenant governor for the state of New York is warning people to “protect their parents” from the measure…

Betsy McCaughey, the former New York state officer, told former president candidate Fred Thompson during an interview on his radio program the “consultation” is no more or less than an attempt to convince seniors to die.

“One of the most shocking things is page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory absolutely that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session,” she said. “They will tell [them] how to end their life sooner.”

The proposal specifically calls for the consultation to recommend “palliative care and hospice” for seniors in their mandatory counseling sessions. Palliative care and hospice generally focus only on pain relief until death.

This is a lie. Nowhere in the text of the bill does it say anything what should or must be recommended. As the text above shows, it only requires an explanation of how to create advanced directives, living wills and the like, to make sure one’s wishes are carried out in such a situation. And it helps people to understand both why this is important and what their options are. In fact, it explicitly says that patients are to be told about how to make sure they get “life-sustaining care.”

‘(4) A consultation under this subsection may include the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining treatment or a similar order.

All of this is utter nonsense. The only thing this does is educate senior citizens, those most likely to find themselves in a situation where they are unable to communicate with doctors, about the importance of having their wishes clearly expressed in a legally binding manner.

You would think that the same nutcases who went apeshit about the Terri Schiavo situation would be all for this. It will help avoid situations where someone other than the patient has to make life or death decisions. There is absolutely nothing in this bill that even suggests — to the sane, non-demagogic person — that this is anything but a good thing. Of course, we are not dealing with sane, non-demagogic people here.