Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, 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.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Sounds like we're getting more choices with out healthcare, doesn't it? Well, keep on reading, true believers:
While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.
Regulation process, huh? Isn't that the same as legislation by fiat? Also, interesting little factoid for those who don't know: It's not just Republicans who are opposed to this bill, and this end of life provision. The whole bill had bipartisan opponents from all walks of life. Not to mention, the Republicans of the 111th Congress were about as able to stop Obama as a wall of paper was to stop bullets from a rail gun.
Things will change, hopefully, with the initiation of the 112th Congress, which they say will begin with a reading of a little document we like to call the Constitution of the United States of America. Hopefully they can kill this damned end of life provision while they're at it, since that was one of their principal election platforms in the midterms. If they don't, I'm sure there'll be hell to pay. From me at least if from no one else.
Oh, sure. The article starts out innocently enough, seemingly telling each of the readers that it will only incentivize doctors to council patients about what kind of treatment they want. Really? I don't buy it. Reason being because the article states that the government will specifically subsidize those doctors who recommend end of life care for their patients. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this provision already in the original bill and taken out because of a major hooplah that was caused by the bill's opponents? Mark Billing, who was subbing for Rush today on his show, confirms that yes, indeed, that was the case. Not only that, but according to him the language is even stronger now than it was in its original form. And its original form was specifically labeled "indefensible". Well, if this provision was indefensible then, what makes them think its defensible now?
The answer, dear readers, is that it is not. Obama has, using the rule making authority given to him by the passage of this 2000 page paperweight to recraft Obamacare into exactly what he wanted it to be before the town hall meetings of 2009 forced him to make promises that he had no intention of keeping.
God help us all in these trying times, and may the new Congress keep their heads and listen to those who gave them their consent just one short month ago.
Update: Left Coast Rebel beat me to posting this first, so here's some of his take on the issue:
- Think of end-of-life counseling from the Obama White House as carrots dangled in front of doctors, financial "incentives" for doctors to discuss “options” for end-of-life care. As stated in the NYT, that may "include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment," or a continuance of Obama's "take this pill and go home" solution to medical costs.
- Under this new regulatory regime, doctors could ostensibly be the pawns of cost-curve-bending bureaucrats. To put this into perspective, ponder a Greece-like meltdown of our financial system/government in the future and the way then that these rules would be implemented. Better yet, think of this amount of power held in the wrong hands. How would the elderly be "counseled" during a time of national crisis? Moral hazard? Who determines that doctors have pure motives, instead of purely financial motives as they counsel in end-of-life situations?
- Team Obama (has again) done a complete 180 degree turn on the American people, going behind the back of both the American public and the Democrat-controlled Congress that took the death panel language out the legislation due to public outcry.
- Obama has been able to insert the death panel regulations due to the ambiguous "the Secretary shall determine" language that appears five times in the final 2000 page Senate version of Obamacare giving the "Secretary" (in this case, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius) the ability to implement (at their discretion) such a rule. The end-of-life regulation was finalized in November, brought to light the day after Christmas, and takes effect January 1, 2011. How's that for transparency, hope and change?
- The regulation is yet another example that Obamacare is simply the skeleton template of socialized, government-run health care. As Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection states, "Obamacare simply is the infrastructure. The details and the demons will be worked out in regulations." The end-of-life regulation is such a detail and demon.
Continuing to Fight the Good Fight.