Friday, August 14, 2009

Republican Senator Isakson Calls Palin's "Death Panel" Stance "Nuts"

Besides the "birthers" who cast false doubt about President Obama's American citizenship, there are the "deathers" who state that the administration is intent on setting up "death panels" to decide when seniors will die. This issue is a distortion of the amendment of Republican Senator Johnny Isakson (left) of Georgia, which calls for individuals being allowed "to obtain assistance in formulating their own living will and power of attorney." The legislation would finance optional consultations with medical professionals about hospice care and other end-of-life services. 

Senator Isakson has stated that those, including Sarah Palin, who speak of a "death panel" are "nuts." From an interview with the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:

Klein: How did this become a question of euthanasia?

Isakson: 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. [...] It empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time rather than having the government making them for you.

Palin actually supported the very end-of-life counseling that she now calls euthanasia. On April 16, 2008, then-Governor Palin issued the Proclamation "Healthcare Decisions Day," which advocated that public facilities inform seniors about end-of-life decisions:

WHEREAS, Healthcare Decisions Day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions, related to end of life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions. [...]

WHEREAS, one of the principal goals of Healthcare Decisions Day is to encourage hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and hospices to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives, as well as to encourage medical professionals and lawyers to volunteer their time and efforts to improve public knowledge and increase the number of Alaska’s citizens with advance directives.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who now speaks against "death panels," was also for end-of-life counseling in 2003, as were Republicans in general:

Remember the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, the one that passed with the votes of 204 GOP House members and 42 GOP Senators? Anyone want to guess what it provided funding for? Did you say counseling for end-of-life issues and care? Ding ding ding!!

So either Republicans were for death panels in 2003 before turning against them now--or they're lying about end-of-life counseling in order to frighten the bejeezus out of their fellow citizens and defeat health reform by any means necessary. Which is it, Mr. Grassley ("Yea," 2003)?

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