I've been the NY Times website homepage only a few times in the last few years but I went yesterday, and what did I find, on the front page, top left, but this piece calling the stories about "death panels" "false rumors." Sarah Palin wrote that the currently proposed legislation includes provisions for a government panel that decides whether people live or die. They might even have killed her own son, Trig, for his abnormalities, she wrote!
It's bullshit, but that hasn't stopped quite a few people from repeating the claim, or just using the term "death panel" without defining it. The inestimable Bob Somerby covers the NY Times piece. He even embarrasses me, though not by name, because I must have some power, and I feel like I've done precious little to stop the degradation of the public debate. So, with that in mind, I'll comment on an ancillary piece of garbage that Bob brings up, Charles Lane's op-ed Undue Influence: The House Bill Skews End-of-Life Counsel, which, it turns out, Bob had suggested people wrestle with the day it was written.
I don't have much patience for garbage, and I didn't even finish the article before I saw what Lane had done. We are talking about catastrophe care. Do you want doctors to leap tall buildings to save you if you will never recover, say, brain function? If you've already been hit by a bus and are lying in a coma, it is too late to ask, so, of late, people have been encouraged to put their will down on paper. This is often called an "advance directive."
Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 is, I must say, quite explicit about what should be discussed when a doctor and patient have a discussion about, while being vague about such things as key questions (highlighted in orange) that a doctor must ask a patient to consider. Lane is being fair when he points that out. Lane makes a couple small boob moves, along with his amazing absurdity, and when he says that a doctor might think to offer the Roman Catholic Church or Dr. Jack Kevorkian as a "resources" to help with end-of-life planning. Does your local Archdiocese provide such information? They might. If they did, would you want this information hidden from you? Probably not. Would a doctor be obeying this law if they provided a list that only included a local Church? Definitely not, since the bill explicitly mandates the minimum list the doctor might provide (highlighted with blue in three places).
One other lame move of Chuck's is his link to the full 1000 page PDF version of the bill, instead of something handy, like I provided above and again here. And yet another is when he writes this piece of innuendo "If Section 1233 is innocuous, why would 'strategists' want to tip-toe around the subject?" Strategists, a word which does not require quotes, have strategies, and if they told you what they were, they wouldn't be very good at being strategists. Guess all you want, but if a strategist says they are doing something, that's probably part of the strategy, too.
The real inexcusable insult to my intelligence in Chuck's logic comes when he tries to explain how a provision to fund consultations on advance directives might result in people signing away health care when they didn't want to, pressured by doctors to do so. Section 1233 is "not totally innocuous" he writes. He says that now doctors have an financial incentive to initiate conversations with patients concerning end-of-life care. As closely as I can read the text of the legislation, I can't find anything that resembles a change in in the law concerning who might initiate a consultation, which makes me think Chuck is just making shit up, but I can pretend that I am reading the magic version of the bill that Chuck is, in order that I may shove this little tidbit down his reality-pipe. If a doctor starts encouraging people to sign up for consultations, paid for by government, in order to make a buck, why on Earth would that same doctor recommend that the patient refuse catastrophe care? There is no money to be made in letting a brain-dead, accident victim die. A doctor only makes money keeping people alive. Doctors have a financial incentive, except when it comes to making money, according to the Chuck Lane. Does this guy have an editor? If not, why not?
This absurdity let's Chuck mock Representatives Blumenauer and Levin. He doesn't forward any arguments by the Representatives, or anyone else, that 1233 doesn't do what he says it does, he just quotes people contradicting him and says they aren't being "realistic."
Yes, please, fire, or at least demote, Chuck Lane, thank you.