WHEN IN DOUBT, GIVE THE MOB WHAT IT WANTS…. It’s easy to mock the insane rhetoric about “death panels,” but let’s not forget that right-wing activists, by screaming about an imaginary threat, are getting exactly what they want.

Tucked inside a sweeping House bill to overhaul the health system is a provision that would require Medicare to pay physicians to counsel patients once every five years. During those sessions, doctors could discuss how patients can plan for such end-of-life decisions as setting up a living will, obtaining hospice care or establishing a proxy to make their health decisions when they are unable to do so. […]

[G]rowing complaints over the provision are leading key lawmakers to conclude that the health overhaul should leave out any end-of-life counseling provisions. A group in the Senate Finance Committee that is attempting to craft Congress’s only bipartisan health bill has decided to exclude such a measure, Senate aides said this week. [emphasis added]

Up until very recently, this provision was a common-sense idea that enjoyed bipartisan support. It would help seniors and their families plan for end-of-life care; it would help guide physicians and doctors; it would help save taxpayers money; and it would help honor patients’ wishes. Even insurance companies are fine with it.

But after a right-wing temper tantrum, based on confusion and lies, lawmakers are prepared to dump the idea altogether.

Who wins? Unhinged activists, who are effectively being told that they’ll get their way if they scream loud enough. Who loses? Everyone else.

It reminds me of kids who give the bully their lunch money thinking, “Well, if I give him the lunch money today, maybe he’ll leave me alone tomorrow.” I don’t think that ever works.

And here’s the real kicker: it won’t make any difference. Lawmakers can take the measure out of the bill, and right-wing critics will continue to equate reform with the Nazi Holocaust, because a) they’re unconcerned with reality; and b) they’ll assume the measure is still there anyway.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.