End-of-life services

END-OF-LIFE SERVICES…. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) delivered a speech on the House floor yesterday, insisting that health care reform would “put seniors in a position” in which they may be “put to death by their government.” There’s been a lot of that rhetoric floating around lately.

And apparently, some are actually starting to worry about it. President Obama, speaking at an AARP forum yesterday, was asked by a concerned elderly woman about “rumors” that government officials would visit people’s homes and “told to decide how they wish to die.” The president tried to clarify what this is all about.

“You know, I guarantee you, first of all, we just don’t have enough government workers to send to talk to everybody, to find out how they want to die. I think that the only thing that may have been proposed in some of the bills — and I actually think this is a good thing — is that it makes it easier for people to fill out a living will.”

After explaining what living wills are, and why they can be beneficial, Obama added, “Mary, I just want to be clear: Nobody is going to be knocking on your door; nobody is going to be telling you you’ve got to fill one out. 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.”

Pressed further by the AARP moderator, the president said the intent of the provision in question is to provide seniors with “more information, and that Medicare will pay for it.”

The NYT touched on this in a report today, too.

A provision of the House bill would provide Medicare coverage for the work of doctors who advise patients on life-sustaining treatment and “end-of-life services,” including hospice care.

Conservative groups have seized on this provision as evidence that the bill could encourage the rationing of health care…. The House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, said, “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.”

Boehner was serious. [Update: Zachary Roth has a good item on this.]

Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D) of North Carolina told the Times he’s been hearing concerns from constituents who’ve been misled. “The longer we wait to vote,” Butterfield, “the more opportunity our opponents have to put out false messages.”

In other words, lawmakers have to hurry, and resolve differences with conservative lawmakers, because professional conservative liars are busy conning the country. It’s quite a political process we have here.