Nobody pulling the plug on grandma, key Republican says

August 23, 2009

USA-COURT/SOTOMAYORHe warned that the U.S. government must not be in a position to “pull the plug on grandma.”But Senator Charles Grassley, a leading Republican who could be key to President Barack Obama’s hopes of overhauling healthcare, acknowledged on Sunday that so-called “death panels” weren’t really a possibility anyway.Grassley, the leading Republican in the Senate Finance Committee, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that his well-publicized comment about pulling the plug was only meant to convey the fears of voters.“It won’t do that. But I wanted to explain why my constituents are concerned about it,” Grassley said.He was quoted saying earlier this month that “You have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.”He struggled a bit when asked to explain why he made the comments in the first place: “I said that because — two reasons. Number one, I was responding to a question at my town meetings. I let my constituents set the agenda. A person that asked me that question was reading from language that they got off of the Internet. It scared my constituents…”Obama expressed outrage on Saturday about persistent rumors about the government-run “death panels” — an issue most notably raised by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year.“As every credible person who has looked into it has said, there are no so-called ‘death panels’ — an offensive notion to me and to the American people,” Obama said. “These are phony claims meant to divide us.”The issue stems from a provision in a House of Representatives bill that would have provided government funding for optional counseling on end-of-life care issues such as hospice.Obama’s healthcare plan has been hit from both sides, with liberal members of his own party pushing for major changes while Republicans and conservative Democrats fret about cost and government involvement. The debate likely will intensify next month when Congress returns from its summer recess.Do you think Grassley’s acknowledgement will help end the debate over death panels?


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Grassley is exemplifying the Washington mentality — talking out of both sides of his mouth. The stand he takes is entirely dependent upon the audience he is addressing — when speaking to infuriated conservatives and moderates he is against the current health care plan, but when speaking to liberals through the decidedly liberal CBS news outlet he is “kind of” supporting the current health care plan. In the end, Grassley will be one of the Senators that stabs the public in the back by voting for the current health care bill while telling his constituents that he is against it and thinks it is a bad idea.

Posted by Fuzmaniac | Report as abusive

It doesn’t matter whether or not this debate will end. Take out the financial incentive to doctors so it will truly be a “voluntary” counseling session. Otherwise, it isn’t voluntary.Also, the blue dog democrats and liberal democrats are the ones fighting over the health care plan mucking around in congress. I am happy they can’t come to agreement because the health care Obama and the liberals want is not good for the country and won’t be good for us.No one is arguing health care doesn’t need to be tweaked. We just don’t need what they are offering the American people and polls show they this to be true.I hope the American people don’t let their guard down. There are wolves in sheeps clothing looking to take ourfreedom…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

The health care bill has to be broken down into smaller bills.First step – pass a simple, straightforward bill that prohibits insurance companies from refusing to cover for pre-existing conditions.Should be able to pass both houses and be signed into law by the end of September, since the rats who feed off the insurance industry will be forced into the light of day.The second phase is to control costs, which can only be done by injecting competition into the marketplace. That competition has to come from the government. Do not use the words “single payer” or “government run”. Use the words “Expanded Medicare”. Offer “expanded Medicare” as a cheaper alternative to private health insurance, to progressively lower ages, in stages. This will force down costs by injecting competition.Problem solved!

Posted by Doug Kappeler | Report as abusive

When Bob Schieffer asked whether the House legislation “would pull the plug on grandma,” Grassley stated, “It won’t do that,” but then said that right-wing fearmongering on the issue was still justified. “It just scares the devil out of people, so that ought to be dropped.”Obama did use the phrase “pull the plug on grandma.” But he used it as an example of the lies Republicans were pushing to scare the American public. Despite Grassley’s claim, Obama did not respond in “exactly the same way.” Obama said the right-wing myth was completely baseless; Grassley said that it was definitely something to be feared.Grassley’s acknowledgement may help end the debate over death panels, but it will have no effect on Republican’s determination to derail any changes that will affect insurance companys’ monopoly over healthcare. Their goal is deregulation of the health insurance industry, not creating competition for them.

Posted by amandaT | Report as abusive

It doesn’t matter whether or not the final bill has “end of life counseling”. The fact remains that rationing will be the ultimate result of adding 40 million people to a government plan. There will be an immediate shortage of doctors and facilities as these newly covered patients head to their medical providers for their “free” care. Simple human nature; make it free to 40 million and 40 million will run for the freebie for treating everything from a cold to elective surgery. The government will necessarily have to ration care especially for the elderly who use it most OR rationing will naturally occur thru long wait times and unavailability of access to doctors and surgery rooms.

Posted by richard | Report as abusive

Let us not be confused about the fact that at present the democrats are fragment over the different bills being proposed. Obama with out any doubt would align himself with the far left of his party and readily go for the single one payer system,which he suggested in his campaign. But because of public concern about the estimated cost projected by none partisan economists and the vagueness of what is involved the average american has given it the thumbs down. If they try to rush this through the legislate, it is estimated that they could loose in excess of 20 seats in congress,as has been suggested by several political commentators, Because of this prospect i think Obama will pull back and after the summer recess we will see a totally different set of proposals appear. To endorse the uncertainty of the acceptance of a socialist type health care system we are hearing from not only conservative bloggers like me, but from liberal activists like eric h who has had the courage to publish his concern.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

The GOP and its supporters are pathetic. They are more concerned with Obama losing than on making any necessary changes to their abysmal health care system. But rather than fighting the legislation on its merits, the GOP instead simply makes up lies about it. They have no shame. It is a good thing that party will be out in the wilderness for decades. The GOP has no real leaders, no new ideas, no credibility… just a bunch of angry old white men and Bobby Jindal.

Posted by Advokat | Report as abusive

We already have deregulated health care; it’s resulted in phenomenal concentration of the health insurance industry into fewer and fewer hands, getting closer and closer to an unregulated monopoly. Time for some enforcement of antitrust laws as well as health care reform since the insurance industry isn’t willing to cover all comers as a common carrier utility-like industry should.

Posted by borisjimski | Report as abusive

This health care issue has trully opened my eyes to what american’s are trully like. Not at all what we sing about in patriotism and in church every Sunday:Amercian’s in general are:1. Unable to think critically. Example1: The very people fighting the very health care reform bill don’t have health care insurance and they can’t afford to get. They have no explanation of why they think this way other than calling it socialism, well so is public education and social security, but they want that.2. Go to church every Sunday sing at church about caring about folloiwng Christ and doing Christlike things; thinking of others and supporting missions trips to foreign lands to save the lost and care for their welfare; yet they get angry at the talk of providing health care for their neighbors and chase people out of the country for coming in illegally to pick our fruits and vegetables for pennies and day. Hey Reuters reporters, how about doing a story on this? An investigation of why so many Christians ideas don’t match up to their faith when it comes to health care reoform? I’m a born again Chrisitan, I don’t get why so many of my peers have such conflicting actions and beliefs? My only answer is lack of abilty to think critically.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

The Insurance Industry will protect their profit margin, and the profits to come (mandatory participation) at all costs. Republicans need money from the Insurance Industry in order to take back congress and win the presidency. They need the public option to fail.We are paying billions for insurance industry advertising, exorbitant salaries for the insurance industry to lobby against us to increase their profits and remove competition.Nothing prevents the Insurance Industry from buying up, buying out, or even starting co-ops to prevent real competition (e.g. blue cross/blue shield). They can claim co-ops “work” without decreasing their profit margin or “triggering” a public option.Without a non-profit public option, the Insurance Industry will not lower costs, in fact it would increase the % of GDP that is already unsustainable. This will force tax increases to an unsustainable level, heavily subsidize Insurance Industry profits, bankrupt our country and the Democrats will be blamed.The top 10 rated countries have universal coverage, require non-profit health care whether it’s public or private sector, and have sustainable % of GDP. Singapore, rated 6th, has the lowest % of GDP because it requires public health care to compete with private.Because or profit driven Insurance we pay approx. $4-6000 more per person than any other industrialized country, yet we don’t have universal coverage and we are rated 37th as a nation for our Health Care (just above Costa Rica).The Republicans and Blue dogs are deceiving themselves and the public at the expense of their constituents health, their financial stability and our nations solvency?

Posted by CIndy Lugo | Report as abusive

Pull the plug on me!I don’t need that last 2 months of life, not at that cost to Society. Republicans are all for paying your own way, so if they want that last 2 months of life, that is 25% of all healthcare cost, let them start paying premiums of $200/month on an insurance rider right now to get it.I hope Sarah Palin is through with politics if she’s going to grossly misstate a bill before Congress.Grassley’s statement that you shouldn’t get end of life counselling later that 20 years before you die is a contemptible absurdity. But I’d at least be willing to listen to ideas about having it provided by voluntary organizations, rather along the lines of the heroic history of Planned Parenthood. Just so long as the rights patients need are protected.

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

They always said that Obama’s administration would be tested, but that assumption was that it might be foreign powers, much as the Iran hostage drama soured Carter’s presidency.This issue is the test for the Obama administration. A sensible, overdue reform that will save American lives and money. If he lets the insurance industry resist it, his government will achieve nothing.

Posted by stuart munro | Report as abusive

President Obama should leave these two-faced republicans behind where they belong.

Posted by jones-low | Report as abusive

Oh. My. God! TC (8/23) is worried about the Obama administration “taking our freedoms” yet the Bush administration did more curb our freedoms than the past 10 administrations (Including FDR’s).I find it amazing that morons like TC would much rather have private insurance companies make healthcare decisions for us, decision primarily based on a profit motive, than have a medically-based decision made. Besides, in the HR676 bill, YOU and I will make the decisions, the Medicare-For-All bill would be INSURANCE, not a medical care provider.The misinformation spread by the liars on the right, as exemplified by Grassley’s gross mischaracterization, just proves that BIG BUSINESS runs this country…we the people are just cogs in their wheels.Sad, sad, sad.

Posted by Michael in Chicago | Report as abusive

Michael in Chicago. Typically name calling leftist who can’t provide a decent response to bolster his claim, so he calls names. Typical…typical…Well, I have great health insurance and I don’t want to lose it. I have worked hard to get it and deserve to keep it. I don’t want to pay for the people who we see on COPS every weekend. They don’t deserve the same level of care as I have. But the government wants to make sure we are a part of this government plan…substandard as it is.Sorry, Mike…but the majoriy of Americans agree with me and not with you.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Sorry TC!the only sorry due is the name of the discredited and corruption infested Chicago. One of the biggest misconceptions around is the impression that Bush was the president of big business and lobbyists.Do you know who the guy was that was partnering Obama on the golf course today? and the contributions this ceo gave to Obama .what about the private meeting with the heads of the drug companies,of coarse private meeting from our “transparent government mr president”. how about the lies about the profit crazy insurance companies when the majority are NONE PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS. keep these guys on the ropes TC, the democrats are going to send out squads of surrogates to intentionally disrupt town hall meetings,so much for the sanctimonious drivel from Pelosi about the “mobs”

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Bush was the president of big business and lobbyists. More than 100 high-level officials were appointed by Bush to govern industries they once represented as lobbyists, lawyers or company advocates. In at least 20 cases, those former industry advocates helped their agencies write, shape or push for policy shifts that benefit their former industries. They knew which changes to make because they had pushed for them as industry advocates. Six of the former industry advocates have faced ethics investigations or resigned amid conflict-of-interest charges. Those and at least 14 others have been sued by public-interest groups for serving the interests of big business and not protecting the public from them.

Posted by Anne M | Report as abusive