Sunday, August 09, 2009

At a town hall meeting somewhere in America

creamed corn mafia Okay, people, those are my prepared remarks on why I support health care reform. Now, I am prepared to entertain – so to speak -  some questions. You there, ma’am, upfront.

I’m just Soylent Green on the hoof to you, aren’t I?

I beg your pardon.

You know, the movie starring our hero, Moses, I mean Charlton Heston, where old people got made into food. That’s what you want to do with us. You want to kill us just to get us out of the way.

That’s patently absurd.

Well, you’re going to counsel us to kill ourselves: same thing.

Where did you ever get that idea?

I have it on good authority.

Really? What authority?

I am quoting Donald E. Wildmon from the American Family Association [no link; it’s in an email]:

In a recent New York Post column, Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York and health care expert, wrote:

"One troubling provision of the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care (House bill, p. 425-430). The sessions cover highly sensitive matters such as whether to receive antibiotics and 'the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.' This mandate invites abuse, and seniors could easily be pushed to refuse care."

Question for your Congressmen: Will you oppose any healthcare reform bill that in any way promotes euthanasia?

Pastor Wildmon is a pioneer in television censorship; you know that, don’t you Congressman? He’s nobody to fool with!

Ah, well, Betsy has had to back off; you know that, too, don’t you?

Betsy McCaughey was forced to backtrack after calling the provision "mandatory" -- a "pants on fire" falsehood. As Media Matters for America noted, after repeatedly falsely asserting that the bill makes end-of-life counseling for seniors "mandatory," former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey was forced to backtrack from her claim -- a claim called "a ridiculous falsehood. That's a Pants on Fire." Confronted with accusations that she lied about the bill, she claimed, as she had done with a prior falsehood about another bill, that she was right about the effect (if not the literal wording) of the legislation.

Has Pastor Wildmon sent you a retraction, ma’am?

Well, no.

Ask him about it. And while you at it, ask Rush Limbaugh to correct what he said about it, too.

Rush won’t take my calls.

I see. But now that you mention advance care planning, do you know what one of the House bills does say about that?


Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. Or I’ll let Media Matters tell you:

Advance care planning is not mandatory in the House health care bill. The House health care reform bill provides coverage for counseling as a service through Medicare and is not mandatory. Section 1233 of America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 amends the Social Security Act to ensure that advance care planning will be covered if a patient requests it from a qualified care provider [America's Affordable Health Choices Act, Sec. 1233]. According to an analysis of the bill produced by the three relevant House committees, the provision "[p]rovides coverage for consultation between enrollees and practitioners to discuss orders for life-sustaining treatment. Instructs CMS to modify 'Medicare & You' handbook to incorporate information on end-of-life planning resources and to incorporate measures on advance care planning into the physician's quality reporting initiative." [, accessed 7/29/09]

Rep. Blumenauer: "Myth: Patients will be forced to have this consultation once every five years." Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who co-authored the provision, released a fact sheet on advance planning consultations in the House health care bill that states: "Myth: Patients will be forced to have this consultation once every five years. Fact: Advance planning consultations are not mandatory; this benefit is completely voluntary. The provision merely provides coverage under Medicare to have a conversation once every five years if -- and only if -- a patient wants to make his or her wishes known to a doctor. If desired, patients may have consultations more frequently if they are chronically ill or if their health status changes."

I still think it’s a bad idea, Sonny.

Congressman Sonny? I like that. Anyway, there are some important advocacy groups, including AARP, who do think it is a good idea:

AARP: Supports provision, criticized "gross," "cruel" distortions. A July 28 Politico article on the counseling provision reported: "'This measure would not only help people make the best decisions for themselves but also better ensure that their wishes are followed,' AARP Executive Vice President John Rother said in a statement. 'To suggest otherwise is a gross, and even cruel, distortion -- especially for any family that has been forced to make the difficult decisions on care for loved ones approaching the end of their lives.' "

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: Supports provision, no "responsible legislative analyst" would indicate it is mandatory. The July 28 Politico article also reported: "Jon Keyserling, vice president for public policy and counsel at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, said: 'I was surprised that any responsible legislative analyst would indicate this is a mandatory provision. That is just a misreading of the language and, certainly, of the intent.' " According to a fact sheet distributed by Blumenauer's office, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization supports the provision.

AARP? Buncha communists!

Well, there it is. Anything else on your mind?

Yeah, keep the government out of my Medicare!

Update: A thump of the tail to commenter James for a heads up on the Wildmon email.

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