KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Debate Surrounds End-Of-Life Care Provision In Reform

A provision in the House health care reform bill to provide Medicare coverage for end-of-life care consultation spurs debate and misinformation.

Politico reports: "Sean Hannity believes it. So do House Minority Leader John Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor. Talk show host Fred Thompson calls it 'the dirty little secret' of the health care reform debate. The focus of their ire is a provision tucked deep inside the House bill that would provide Medicare coverage for an end-of-life consultation once every five years. If a person falls ill with a life-threatening disease, more frequent sessions would be allowed. Republicans are now using this language as a wedge between senior citizens and Democrats. Boehner and Cantor issued a statement last week saying it "may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia" - even though the concept behind the provision has been embodied in federal law since 1990 and has been promoted by Republicans and Democrats for years. The House Republican leadership statement capped days of chatter on talk radio and in the blogosphere - serving notice to AARP, Democratic lawmakers and other supporters of the health care reform bill that an under-the-radar distortion, in their view, was building steam."

Politico notes: "But proponents of the end-of-life care measure say it does nothing close to what McCaughey, Thompson, Boehner and others assert. The provision would require Medicare to cover advanced care consultations for the first time, but it does not mandate individuals to take advantage of the benefit, proponents say" (Budoff Brown, 7/28).

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