The First Draft: health care heat wave
The temperature’s heading toward 100 in Washington, and things are getting hotter in the debate over health care too, even with Congress out of town for the traditional August recess and President Barack Obama in Mexico for the so-called Three Amigos summit.
Taking aim at the orchestrated — or not — attacks on congressional supporters of the Obama health care plan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer struck back in an opinion piece in USAToday: “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”
The two top House Democrats aren’t commenting in a vacuum. Obama’s Saturday radio and Web address focused on the “outlandish” tactics of some opponents of health care reform.
That followed a note by Sarah Palin — ex-governor, ex-vice-presidential candidate but still somehow claiming attention in Washington — on Facebook last week, alleging that Obama’s health care plan would have what she called a “death panel” that would let bureaucrats decide who would be “worthy of health care.” Palin, who has slammed the media for focusing on her children, said her “baby with Down Syndrome” would have to come before such a bureaucratic panel.
ABC News asked, reasonably, what Palin was talking about when she mentioned a “death panel,” and was referred to HR3200 p. 425, “Advance Care Planning Consultation” about end-of-life care. No specific mention of any death panel.
The non-partisan Factcheck.org site says its e-mail inbox has been “exploding” recently with queries asking whether this provision encourages suicide at the end of life. The answer, Factcheck.org said, is no. “Page 425 does deal with counseling sessions for seniors, but it is far from recommending a “Logan’s Run” approach to Medicare spending. In fact, it requires Medicare to cover counseling sessions for seniors who want to consider their end-of-life choices –- including whether they want to refuse or, conversely, require certain types of care. The claim that the bill would ‘push suicide’ is a falsehood.”
Will this be the end of the discussion? Our considered opinion: not a chance!
Photo credits: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, July 22, 2009, Washington DC)
REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder (Sarah Palin, July 26, 2009. Fairbanks, Alaska)