Seems our old buddy, Mr. Death Panel, is back again. Some horses you just can’t beat enough. Not satisfied with merely referring to the healthcare plan as a government (read, socialist) takeover of the health insurance industry – a charge that can be proven as patently false to anyone with the ability to read and think – the wing nuts on the Right are gearing up to once more to dip their wicks into the inkwells of fear and ignorance, just in case their legal challenges, like their integrity, go up in a puff of smoke. When reality fails, there’s always deception. After all, it served them so well before.
So what triggered this latest round of hysteria? As we all know, Democrats, succumbing to the pressure of last year’s August Town Hall mobs, removed the end-of-life planning provision from the healthcare reform bill. However, the Obama Administration, not to be outdone, has reintroduced it through a new Medicare regulation set to go into effect January 1, 2011. Under the new policy, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment. Doctors can now provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.
Can you spell “Death Panel, Part Deux?” I knew you could. So why all the hubbub? Obviously it isn’t all about killing granny, though continue to look for Grand Poobah Rush Limbaugh and his Knights of the Right Table (Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin) to give it the old college try. No, I suspect what’s driving this bus has more to do with the methodology of the Administration than the actual provision itself. Obama was able to bypass the legislative branch altogether by employing a regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent over the next two years as a way of overcoming GOP opposition to Democratic initiatives. Understandably, Republicans are concerned about this. What’s the use of having a majority if the Executive branch can do whatever it wants? Funny, that never seemed to bother them when Bush was president. But, as they say in infomercials, “wait, there’s more.”
In an op-ed piece in Blue Wave News, titled, “Media Fails Again On So-Called Death Panels,” Elise (no last name given) sheds some light into this quagmire by pointing out that Medicare already pays for end-of-life discussions between doctor and patient; all this “new” regulation does is expand it from a one-time discussion to a yearly one. “It’s amazing the kind of information you can find by doing some very simple and quick research – like going to the Medicare.gov website and searching for ‘end of life planning’ (it’s the 7th link down the page).” According to Elise, it’s the information much of the main-stream media simply has been unwilling to look for.
And, that’s not all. “The most amusing part of this media fail is that the Republicans who passed the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003 actually added this provision to Medicare. It went into effect on January 1, 2005 and it was called the Initial Preventive Physical Examination. They didn’t seem to be too worried about so-called death panels back when they were writing the same end-of-life counseling they’re decrying today into Medicare’s coverage guidelines.
“And let’s take a look at the wider hypocrisy at place here – it’s okay for Republicans to write end-of-life planning into Medicare, but it’s not okay for Democrats to do the same. It’s also okay for Republicans to cut health care coverage to millions and literally create the death panels they spent the last year freaking out about.”
Well it’s okay so long as no one knows about it, which appears to be the standard operating procedure for much of the main-stream media in this country. A hundred years ago, The New York Times coined a phrase that would serve as its modus operandi for generations: All the news that’s fit to print. Apparently the bar has been lowered a bit for today's guardians of journalistic integrity. The new banner should now read, all the news that’s approved to be printed.
Nothing like telling it like it is. Yep, if at first you don’t succeed, lie, lie again. And, oh yeah, get the media to go along for the ride.