Written by Tom McClusky - TheCloakRoomBlog.com
Just don't call them death panels . . . .
Section 240 of H.R. 3962 requires insurance companies to provide information related to "end-of life planning" to individuals seeking enrollment in insurance offered on the health insurance exchange. Broader protective language adopted in the Energy and Commerce Committee was removed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), creating a loophole that means H.R. 3962 will require the distribution of end of life materials that will likely include information about assisted suicide options in states such as Oregon and Washington
Additionally, Section 1233, included at the request of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and written by the pro-euthanasia organization Compassion and Choices, adds "advance care planning consultations" as a new optional Medicare-covered benefit. This opens the door for Medicare to pay for end-of-life consultations that include assisted suicide options in states where it is legal.
Both provisions have language that states the sections do not encourage the promotion of "suicide or assisted suicide," however in crafting their state laws, Oregon and Washington redefined the act of assisting in a suicide as "death with dignity," explicitly stating that such action is not legally considered assisted suicide, though by medical definition that is exactly what it is. Think such rationing of care could never happen?
It already has in Oregon where patients were told their state provided insurance would not cover treatment, but would gladly pick up the cost if they went the assisted suicide route.
"From Oregon comes a story almost hard to believe. Barbara Wagner, a Springfield, Oregon woman's doctor hoped a new chemotherapy drug would help her but the Oregon Health Plan sent her a letter telling her they would not pay for the treatment, but would pay for assisted suicide."
And Mrs. Wagner is not the only one to get a letter.
"53-year-old Randy Stroup of Dexter, Ore., has been in a fight for his life. Uninsured and unable to pay for expensive chemotherapy, he applied to Oregon's state-run health plan for help.
Lane Individual Practice Association (LIPA), which administers the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County, responded to Stroup's request with a letter saying the state would not cover Stroup's pricey treatment, but would pay for the cost of physician-assisted suicide."