Death Panels Are Back. Good.
With the last legal hurdle to Obamacare cleared, "death panels" have made a quiet comeback.
With the last legal hurdle to Obamacare cleared, “death panels” have made a quiet comeback.
LAT (“Obama administration revives plan once criticized as ‘death panels’“):
Six years after end-of-life planning nearly derailed development of the Affordable Care Act amid charges of “death panels,” the Obama administration has revived a proposal to reimburse physicians for talking with their Medicare patients about how patients want to be cared for as they near death.
The proposal, contained in a large set of Medicare regulations unveiled Wednesday, comes amid growing public discussion about the need for medical care that better reflects patients’ wishes as they get older.
Two months ago, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, suggested that Medicare patients should sign so-called advance directives that spell out the care they want if they become incapacitated.
The American Medical Assn. has recommended the Medicare billing change.
The new proposal from the Department of Health and Human Services would not require Medicare patients to sign any order or even to talk with their physicians about end-of-life care.
Aside from the cleverness of “death panels” as a mobilizing tool, capitalizing on longstanding American fears about government control of healthcare, I’ve never understood the argument against the practice. Of course physicians ought to discuss with their patients what their end-of-life options are once they become terminally ill or sufficiently advanced in age. And, so long as we maintain a fee-for-service model, of course they ought get paid for it.
To the extent that government is a prime payer of healthcare expenses—and for those over 65, there’s little controversy over the fact that it is—there is something of a conflict of interest at work, in that care for terminal patients eats up an inordinate percentage of lifetime costs. But it strikes me as absurd that doctors are going to talk their patients into ending their lives prematurely mostly on the basis of cost savings.