Friday, August 21, 2009

Krauthammer Deconstructs End of Life Counseling

Charles Krauthammer has turned down the rhetoric and increased the clarity on the Democrats' proposal for end of life counseling in H.R. 3200:

We might start by asking Sarah Palin to leave the room. I've got nothing against her. She's a remarkable political talent. But there are no "death panels" in the Democratic health care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate.

We also have to tell the defenders of the notorious Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 that it is not quite as benign as they pretend. To offer government reimbursement to any doctor who gives end-of-life counseling -- whether or not the patient asked for it -- is to create an incentive for such a chat.

. . .

So why get Medicare to pay the doctor to do the counseling? Because we know that if this white-coated authority whose chosen vocation is curing and healing is the one opening your mind to hospice and palliative care, we've nudged you ever so slightly toward letting go.

It's not an outrage. It's surely not a death panel. But it is subtle pressure applied by society through your doctor. And when you include it in a health care reform whose major objective is to bend the cost curve downward, you have to be a fool or a knave to deny that it's intended to gently point you in a certain direction, toward the corner of the sick room where stands a ghostly figure, scythe in hand, offering release.

Liberals win elections and then govern with the premise that people like it when the government gives them free stuff. There is a cost to these goodies beyond the taxes needed to pay for them: the cost is a loss of personal autonomy. I don't want the government to pay for my end of life counseling. If I need it, I'll pay for it myself or pass a hat to my loved ones.

1 comment:

Chesley Perlmutter said...

Actually, this isn't one of CK's best efforts. I'm a big fan of Charles, but he muddled this one.

He first belittles Palin's metaphor for a combination of aspects of ObamaCare and then he spends the balance of hid article reaching the same conclusion.

Was the use of "death panel" provocative? You betcha! Was it inaccurate? No, not when you read her entire article. It amazes me that so many people who use words to make a living took "death panel" literally instead of how it was obviously intended.

If she had chosen a less provocative description of how ObamaCare will affect the lives of the elderly and infirm, do you really think it would have generated much of a debate.

Read her original article and her follow-up and you'll see that the end-of-life counseling was not the focus of her objections. Add rationing, various commissions to determine benefits and treatments, "Complete Lives System", and incentivised end-of-life counseling, and you do end up with a collective "death panel".

Dr. Thomas Sowell makes it pretty clear.