Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gingrich, Grassley, and Steele Think That Voluntary Counseling = Euthanizing the Elderly

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone does a good job exposing the opportunism of Newt Gingrich:

Here is Gingrich a few months ago:

More than 20 percent of all Medicare spending occurs in the last two months of life. Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin has developed a successful end-of-life, best practice that combines: 1) community-wide advance care planning, where 90 percent of patients have advance directives; 2) hospice and palliative care; and 3) coordination of services through an electronic medical record. The Gundersen approach empowers patients and families to control and direct their care. The Dartmouth Health Atlas has documented that Gundersen delivers care at a 30 percent lower rate than the national average ($18,359 versus $25,860). If Gundersen’s approach was used to care for the approximately 4.5 million Medicare beneficiaries who die every year, Medicare could save more than $33 billion a year.

via Health Care Rx: Across the Country, Some Systems Are Getting It Right – Newt Gingrich.

Taibbi's reaction:

That was Newt Gingrich just a few months ago praising the “Advance Directives” practiced by a hospital in Wisconsin. Advance Directives are another word for the end-of-life consultations that the teabggers have been flipping out over of late. Gingrich loved them a few months ago.


Well, what happens when suddenly the Republican party decides it wants to scare the shit out of a bunch of old people by telling them the new health care bill is going to include a provision in which “death panels” ask them “when they want to die”? Now all of the sudden Gingrich is violently against the same programs he was so windily praising earlier this year.

And make no mistake, this is exactly the same thing. The only thing that’s actually in the health care proposals is a provision that would allow Medicare to pay for exactly the kind of programs Gingrich praised, on a voluntary basis. The programs are not government-administered in any way, there’s just government money now to pay for the private programs. And now Gingrich is suddenly aghast at them.

Ezra Klein labels Gingrich as an intellectual fraud and frankly, it is hard to disagree.

Who else has decided to jump on the "the government wants to kill old people" train? How about the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley:

Grassley, while the latest to embrace this view, is simply another example of how this argument has crept into the mainstream of the Republican Party. RNC Chairman Michael Steele also recently stated that it was "proper" for Sarah Palin to question the so-called "death panels" in the health care reform legislation.

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