Return of One Aspect of the “Death Panels”

Just thought I’d brighten your morning with a nice, cheery conversation about death panels.

Ed Morrissey provided a nice breakdown of the latest development:

The White House will create incentives for doctors to discuss “options” for end of life care through regulation, after Congress removed the incentives from ObamaCare.


There is nothing wrong with patients planning for contingencies through advance directives. There is also nothing wrong with doctors discussing those options with patients ahead of those decisions…

There is, however, something at least vaguely disturbing about a government incentivizing doctors to do so as part of an expansive regulatory program that has, as one of its primary goals, cost reduction. The process used by Obama and Kathleen Sebelius to get this into ObamaCare is more disturbing, and in a very specific way….

Thanks to the miles and miles of ambiguity in the final version of ObamaCare, with its repetitive the Secretary shall determine language, Congress has more or less passed a blank check for regulatory growth to Obama and Sebelius.

I’m no expert by any means. But I do know I’ll never feel comfortable with end of life discussions being encouraged by the guy who said this:


Short answer: No. If it’s too expensive we’ll (the government) let doctors know that it’s better to just take a pain pill and die.

And don’t forget that Donald Berwick is in there. Mr. “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care–the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open and NICE is great” is the Administrator for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services. This new regulation is a Medicare regulation. Well, she warned us.

There are implications here that extend beyond health care. Morrissey sums it perfectly:

Better get used to this process, because it’s how President Obama will be pushing his agenda on all fronts.

Yup. Now that Congress is largely beyond Obama’s grasp, he’ll do whatever he can to go around them.

Let’s hope the GOP gets used to fighting this process over the next two years.

Let’s hope. But just between you and me, I’m not holding my breath.

Update: Perhaps this post could be more aptly named “Return of one aspect of the “death panels.” Of course the end of life provision is not the be-all end-all of the government rationing of health care, which is what the term “death panels” really refers to. The counseling provision was merely one arm of the beast. But it was a key part of Palin’s initial response. It was pulled from the health care legislation because of Governor Palin’s Facebook post and now it’s back through regulation, albeit in a more nebulous form. That’s the point.

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