Democratic politicians and the MSM consider it a given that concerns about the “end-of-life counseling” provision in Secion 1233 of a House-drafted version of health care legislation are nothing but the unfounded product of right-wing fear-mongering. But Charles Lane of the Washington Post, certainly no right-winger, has taken a careful look at Section 1233 and finds that he too is concerned.
Lane argues that the “consultations” provided for in Section 1233, while not mandatory, are not “purely voluntary” either as the Democrats have claimed. Thus, he writes, “Section 1233 lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive — money — to do so. Indeed, that’s an incentive to insist.” As Lane notes, common sense tells us that Section 1233 would place senior citizens in a situation where they will feel pressured to sign end-of-life directives that they would not otherwise sign.
The federal govenment should not be in the business of skewing end-of-life counsel, and thus end-of-life decisions. Lane concludes:
Ideally, the delicate decisions about how to manage life’s end would be made in a setting that is neutral in both appearance and fact. Yes, it’s good to have a doctor’s perspective. But Section 1233 goes beyond facilitating doctor input to preferring it. Indeed, the measure would have an interested party — the government — recruit doctors to sell the elderly on living wills, hospice care and their associated providers, professions and organizations. You don’t have to be a right-wing wacko to question that approach.
As it happens, I have a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. I’m glad I do. I drew them up based on publicly available medical information, in consultation with my family and a lawyer. No authority figure got paid by federal bean-counters to influence me. I have a hunch I’m not the only one who would rather do it that way.