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Health Care Myth: Forced Euthanasia

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Did you ever notice how the sides of any issue can stretch the truth and come out with blatant lies? Then those lies are put into emails and every small-minded person passes them on, until they suddenly become "truth". People will actually believe the lies without checking them. Part of this, I think, is just laziness on the part of small-minded people. They don't feel like doing the research and the email already states what they want to believe anyway, so they send it off. Part of this is stupidity; well it has an important sounding name or whatever, so it must be true, because you can't send anything that isn't true, right?

It is annoying when these untruths appeared in emails, but because you know who your intellectually light friends and relatives are, and you can ignore those emails, it isn't so bad. Some of these spreaders of lies spreaders are just your cousin Todd from Buffalo, but some of them are allowed to spread their lies on radio shows and TV shows, and then it is nearly impossible to stop the spread.

Well, today, I'm going to try to stop one of these lies from going any further.  Former lieutenant governor of New York, Betsy McCaughey, is going around claiming that the health care bill, H.R. 3200 (the bill in the House), is "a vicious assault on elderly people" that will "cut your life short." Between her and Palin's lie spreading, it is a wonder that the truth ever gets told.

There is a provision in H.R. 3200 for end of life counseling  which would be paid for by Medicare.  H.R. 3200, page 425:

Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term ‘advance care planning consultation’ means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such consultation shall include the following:

(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to. (B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.

(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.

(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning,

(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.

(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders

I do not read anything in there stating someone is going to put you down because you are no longer deemed worthy to live, as McCaughey and Palin have been claiming.

I can tell you from personal experience that the end of life decision made for a loved one is the most difficult decision ever made. I hope throughout the rest of my life that I never have to make that decision again. It is heartbreaking and one of those moments on which you look back upon and wonder,  "Did I do the right thing?"

Having said that, I feel strongly that every one should have an end of life directive.  If your wish is to be kept alive on machines, it should be followed. If your wish is no heroics, that should be followed as well.

The making / writing / drawing up of these directives should not be taken lightly. I support the health care plan paying for counseling sessions. In fact, I think if you attend one of these sessions, you should bring along your loved ones. Your wishes should be well known in advance.

About Julie Marie Totsch

  • Kim Schilling

    I am in total agreement on preparing our own paths. Both my fathers (natural & step) did not leave clear directives and left the decisions to us as to when to disconnect life support. It has left me always wondering….”did I do the right thing.” It is a terrible guilt for someone you love to carry. Please understand your options and make them clear to those in charge of your health.

  • Riya Roy

    Kim your absolutely right…it is really difficult to take a decision regarding some one else health…one wrong decision and the guilt will never die