Note To Seniors: Proposed Medicare Reform Does Not Include Plans To Kill You

Yesterday, Consumer Reports noted that an anti-health reform politician is trying to convince senior citizens that they’ll be required to take lessons in euthanasia if any reform is passed. Regardless of what side you come down on with health care reform, this is flat out wrong. We care about this lie, which is still bouncing around the media, because it might interfere with the very real and useful tasks of setting up living wills and determining health care proxies—things that matter to both the elderly and the terminally ill.

Here’s how it started: A few weeks ago, Betsy McCaughey, a former Lieutenant Governor of New York and the current chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, said into a microphone, so she knew it was going out to the public,

“Congress would make it mandatory – absolutely require – that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner [...] The bill expressly says if you get sick somewhere in that five-year period, you have to go through that session again – all to do what is in society’s best interest or your family’s best interest and cut your life short.”

Betsy McCaughey is either stupid like a farm chicken or a very mean person, because either she truly misread the proposal (which makes her sort of unfit to be in any position of leadership, especially one concerning health care) or she is deliberately misreading it in order to terrify senior citizens for political purposes, by trying to convince them that we live in some sci-fi future where they’ll be killed by an army of Obama clones. To be clear, the sci-future we do live in has cool smartphones and corporations that use the government to take advantage of private citizens, but it’s not Logan’s Run. If it were, I’d have already pried out my palm gems and sold them to buy more smartphones.

What the proposal does say is that for the first time ever, Medicare will be required to cover counseling about end of life topics, which is something it never paid for in the past. At minimum, it will have to pay for a session once every five years; if you’re really sick, it will pay more frequently. But the sessions are up to you, obviously. The point is, the government will have to help you find out what your options are instead of leaving it up to you to foot the bill.

According to PolitiFact, a spokesman for the AARP said McCaughey’s statements are “not just wrong, they are cruel. We want to make sure people are making the right decision. If some one wants to take every life-saving measure, that’s their call. Others will decide it’s not worth going through this trauma just for themselves and their families, and that’s their decision, too.”

Consumer Reports has a handy list of tips for how to make those difficult decisions when it comes to “aggressive medical care.” The advice is free, politically neutral, and best of all not filled with lies. If you have a loved one who’s freaked out by the Euthanasia Menace of Obama, maybe you can read through the list with them and sort out fact from fiction. Then you can make up your mind about health care reform based on the real issues, not fearmongering from idiots.

“Scaring Seniors: Reform opponents spread myths about euthanasia” [Consumer Reports Health Blog]
“Get better care, no matter where” [Consumer Reports]
“McCaughey claims end-of-life counseling will be required for Medicare patients” [PolitiFact.com]
(Photo: fffriendly)