Meanwhile, the debate over health care reform is playing out according to a familiar script. Armies of conscienceless right-wing attack dogs make stuff up in their attempt to prevent some sensible piece of social reform. Democrats are slow to respond, figuring that no one could possibly be sufficiently naive and gullible to believe the right-wing fictions. Then, sure enough, a significant segment of the American public rises up to prove them wrong.
Here’s Ceci Connelly reporting on the phenomenon:
A campaign on conservative talk radio, fueled by President Obama’s calls to control exorbitant medical bills, has sparked fear among senior citizens that the health-care bill moving through Congress will lead to end-of-life “rationing” and even “euthanasia.”
The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary.
But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as “guiding you in how to die,” “an ORDER from the Government to end your life,” promoting “death care” and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to “kill Granny.”
And the effect of the campaign?
In the past two weeks, AARP has fielded a few thousand calls from people who mistakenly think the legislation would require every Medicare recipient to “choose how they want to die,” said James Dau, a spokesman for the organization.
Though he is “willing to give the benefit of the doubt” to some who may be confused, Dau complained that the effort to “intentionally distort” the proposal “is just plain cruel to anyone who is forced to make one of these difficult decisions at the end of life.”
The American Medical Association, which supports the provision, has received similar inquiries and protests from patients who fear doctors will begin denying care late in life.
“These are important discussions everyone should have when they are healthy and not entering a hospital, so they are fully informed and can make their wishes known,””said association President J. James Rohack. “That’s not controversial; it’s plain, old-fashioned patient-centered care.”
Do these folks never ask, “Is that plausible?” You would think that by the time you reach your senior years you have heard enough lies from public figures to be suspicious of such extravagant claims, but apparently not.
I recently talked with a Central New Jersey constituent about health care reform and my belief that we need an optional publicly administered health insurance plan. He objected, voicing concern that government should stay out of the health care business. Government-run health care would be inefficient. It would be costly. It would put the government between him and his doctor. It would mean socialized medicine.
How did he pay for his health care, I asked.
“Medicare” he responded.
That’s NJ representative Rush Holt.
It has been wisely said that against stupidity the Gods themselves toil in vain.