Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Palin's "Death Panels" called 'nuts' by Republican Senator Isakson from Georgia

"Besides the chilling prospect of 21st-century America morphing into a cold war state — with Sheryl Crow in charge of toilet-paper rationing — there are also delusional fears about the government tapping bank accounts and convening “death panels,” as Sarah Palin dubbed them, to exploit the cost-saving potential of euthanizing the old and disabled.

At his more placid town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday, the president had to explain that he did not intend to “pull the plug on grandma.” He said that the specter of death panels had spun out of a proposal from a Republican, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who has long espoused helping Medicare patients learn about options for care at the end of their lives. In an interview with The Washington Post on Monday, Isakson diagnosed Palin’s interpretation of his suggestion as “nuts.”

-Maureen Dowd, NY Times

More from Sen. Isakson:

In the health-care debate mark-up, one of the things I talked about was that the most money spent on anyone is spent usually in the last 60 days of life and that's because an individual is not in a capacity to make decisions for themselves. So rather than getting into a situation where the government makes those decisions, if everyone had an end-of-life directive or what we call in Georgia "durable power of attorney," you could instruct at a time of sound mind and body what you want to happen in an event where you were in difficult circumstances where you're unable to make those decisions.

This has been an issue for 35 years. All 50 states now have either durable powers of attorney or end-of-life directives and it's to protect children or a spouse from being put into a situation where they have to make a terrible decision as well as physicians from being put into a position where they have to practice defensive medicine because of the trial lawyers. It's just better for an individual to be able to clearly delineate what they want done in various sets of circumstances at the end of their life.

How did this become a question of euthanasia?

I have no idea. I understand -- and you have to check this out -- I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up.

And this from Ezra Klein:

"Encouraging Medicare to cover end-of-life planning just isn't a partisan issue. Nor is it an effort to make anyone shuffle off the mortal coil before they're ready. It's an attempt, as Isakson explained yesterday, to ensure that individuals make their own decisions when they're of sound mind and body, rather than leaving those questions to grieving spouses, doctors who fear a malpractice lawsuit or accountants. It's a good policy, and all the legislators supporting it deserve praise for trying to encourage an adult conversation about death. It's a shame that it's suddenly become polarized."