Paranoia Is Just That

I’m a pretty big fan of Eugene Robinson, who along with E.J. Dionne, is one of the only actual liberals on the Washington Post’s editorial page. This is just nonsense though.

That’s the reason people are so frightened and enraged about the proposed measure that would allow Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling. If the government says it has to control health-care costs and then offers to pay doctors to give advice about hospice care, citizens are not delusional to conclude that the goal is to reduce end-of-life spending. It’s irresponsible for politicians, such as Sarah Palin, to claim — outlandishly and falsely — that there’s going to be some kind of “death panel” to decide when to pull the plug on Aunt Sylvia. But it’s understandable why people might associate the phrase “health-care reform” with limiting their choices during Aunt Sylvia’s final days.

Incorrect. As far-right Republican Johnny Isakson argues, this interpretation is “nuts.” The provision in question would allow Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions on end-of-life care that in some form another, exist in all 50 states already. It is not reasonable to leap from the premise of  “the government is aiming to control health care costs” to the conclusion “the government will pull the plug on Aunt Sylvia.”

I understand the point Robinson is making — that a serious discussion of cost controls may entail addressing high rates of spending on end-of-life care — but this notion that “the government” is some sort of rogue entity that can’t be trusted not to kill its own citizens is patently insane.


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