KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Grassley: Senate Will Not Include End Of Life Care Provision, Controversy Continues

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, says a Senate health bill will not include end-of-life care consultation, as the dispute over the provision continues to swirl.

The Iowa Independent: "Responding to the media storm surrounding his statements Wednesday that government-run health care will lead to mandatory euthanasia for the nation's elderly, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released a press release standing by the debunked theory. 'On the end-of-life issue, there's a big difference between a simple educational campaign, as some advocates want, and the way the House committee-passed bill pays physicians to advise patients about end of life care and rates physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care, while at the same time creating a government-run program that is likely to lead to the rationing of care for everyone,' he said."

"The Senate Finance Committee, which has become the center of debate over health care reform legislation and on which Grassley is the senior Republican, has 'dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly,' he said. As pointed out by Politifact, despite Grassley's insistence, 'there is no panel in any version of the health care bills in Congress that judges a person's 'level of productivity in society' to determine whether they are 'worthy' of health care" in the entire 1,000-page bill'" (Hancock, 8/13).

CQ Healthbeat reports: "The comments from a top player in the health care talks came as a loud and occasionally unruly debate over the overhaul continued to grip the nation in a sort of trial by town hall meetings, as well as on radio and television talk shows and on the Internet. Grassley on Wednesday particularly helped raise the noise level when he said at an Iowa town hall that 'we should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma'" (Norman, 8/13).

The New York Times' Prescriptions blog reports that Grassley "said in a statement that the committee 'dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.' A Senate Finance Committee aide confirmed that the panel was not discussing end-of-life measures, adding that they were 'never a major focus' of the committee's negotiations'" (Becker, 8/13). 

The New York Times reports on the 'Death Panel' myth's familiar roots: "the rumor ... was not born of anonymous e-mailers, partisan bloggers or stealthy cyberconspiracy theorists. Rather, it has a far more mainstream provenance, openly emanating months ago from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets that were central in defeating President Bill Clinton's health care proposals 16 years ago, including the editorial board of The Washington Times, the American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 health care critique made her a star of the conservative movement (and ultimately, New York's lieutenant governor)."

The Times notes: "The extent to which it and other provisions have been misinterpreted in recent days, notably by angry speakers at recent town hall meetings but also by Ms. Palin - who popularized the 'death panel' phrase - has surprised longtime advocates of changes to the health care system" (Rutenberg and Calmes, 8/13).

The Boston Globe reports "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today that 'death panels' are the biggest misconception the administration is trying to rebut. In an email to Obama supporters and a letter posted on the White House website, senior adviser David Axelrod included the claim that the health care proposals would encourage 'euthanasia' among eight 'common myths'" (Rhee, 8/13).

Related Kaiser Health News coverage:

Doctors Providing End-of-Life Counseling See Some Benefits In Current Controversy

What The House Bill Says About End-Of-Life Care


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