Health care end-of-life provision causing
anxiety among elderly
Members of the AARP are leaving by the thousands out of concern for the
organization’s support for President Obama’s health care reform.
several issues are to blame, many have expressed concern that Section
1233 of HR 3200 gives doctors an incentive to persuade ill patients
that assisted suicide is their best option.
CBS reports that 50,000 – 60,000 have left the AARP since July 1, 2009
due to disagreements on Obama’s health care reform. Even though the
AARP does not officially endorse the proposed health care changes, the
association is generally seen to be in support of the reform- so much
so that even President Obama mistakenly stated last week that the AARP
is on board with the administration’s changes.
One section of the bill that has senior citizens as well as younger
Americans concerned is section 1233 of HR 3200 which is titled,
“Advance Care Planning Consultation.”
The text of the bill describes “advance care planning” as including a
consultation between the patient and his or her doctor in which they
would discuss and answer questions including future care, living wills,
durable powers of attorney, information about a health care proxy and
an explanation about end-of-life services that would be available.
These services include, according to the text, “palliative care and
hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available
under this title.”
Pro-life organizations such as National Right to Life (NRLC) have
spoken out specifically about this section of the bill.
reports that the NRLC executive director David O. Steen expressed his
concern that the bill could pressure ill patients into giving up
He noted that the bill makes him uneasy: “it doesn't take a lot
push a vulnerable person — perhaps unwittingly — to give up their right
to life-sustaining treatment," he explained.
Jennifer Popik, a medical ethics attorney with NRLC, also mentioned the
fear that pushing patients to “prepare advance directives” could
“become a means of persuading or pressuring them to agree to less
treatment as a means of saving money."
She added that a 2008 JAMA study found that “patients who reported
having end-of-life discussions received less aggressive medical care."
Attempting to win over those who oppose the bill, President Obama
stated at the AARP town hall on July 28 that he believes the bill “is a
The President explained that the section actually “makes it easier for
people to fill out a living will” and noted that it puts the patient in
control “so she can say whether or not she wants extraordinary measures
to be taken to save her life.”
Obama explained that right now, “most of us don’t give direction to our
family members,” so when one becomes ill, “nobody is there to make the
decisions” and then the doctor, who doesn’t know your preference, “is
making the decisions.”
Obama said that contrary to many rumors, no one will be forcing anyone
to fill out a living will, and “certainly nobody is going to be forcing
you to make a set of decisions on end of life care based on some
bureaucratic law in Washington.”
“It’s putting more power, more choice in the hands of the American
people and,” he argued, “it strikes me as a reasonable thing to do.”
However, the President’s words have not assuaged everyone’s fears
mainly because Section 1233 was written by two strong pro-euthanasia
advocates: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Compassion & Choices.
Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer wrote in the Huffington Post on July
28 that he knows “a little bit” about section 1233 “because it’s a bill
that I wrote which was incorporated into the overall legislation.”
Blumenauer is also known for being a backer of his state’s “Death with
Dignity” law. Oregon was the first state to permit
Compassion & Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society, also
had a hand in promoting section 1233.
On their website on Tuesday, Compassion & Choices noted that they
have “worked tirelessly” to include “a provision requiring Medicare to
cover patient consultation with their doctors about end-of-life choice.”
Popik, the ethics attorney with NRLC called it “extremely troubling
that Compassion and Choices, the principal group that promotes
physician assisted suicide throughout the country is not only
aggressively promoting these provisions, but claims responsibility for
the inclusion of the main provision.”
She added that “Section 1233 allows assisted suicide and euthanasia to
be promoted as an option in the places where it is legal (i.e.
Washington, Oregon, and Montana)."
Date: August 19, 2009
to this article.
this article to a friend.
The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in
Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state
coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of
Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our
society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political
persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic
backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has
been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the
human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that
every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is
dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection
for the disabled and the elderly. Click here to learn more about the IFRL.