Obama Admin Official Sebelius Wants End-of-Life Counseling in Health Care Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 17, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama Admin Official Sebelius Wants End-of-Life Counseling in Health Care Bill

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 17
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — During a weekend interview, a top Obama official said she wants the controversial end-of-life counseling proposal to remain in the final version of the health care bill Obama may receive. The counseling, which skeptics say amounts to "death panels" could promote assisted suicide and health are rationing.

The sections are found in the House version of the health care bills and they call for giving doctors financial incentives to discuss end-of-life issues.

Critics complain that doctors should not be paid to have the discussions and worry that they will promote assisted suicide in states where the practice is legal and promote rationing such as the denial of lifesaving medical treatment or food and water.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday on ABC’s "This Week" that, "I’m hoping that at the end of the day it will be part of the overall the package."

Sebelius explained the reasons for including the language, which was written in the House by a pro-euthanasia group.

"We wanted to make sure doctors were reimbursed for that very important consultation if family members chose to make it, and instead it’s been turned into this scare tactic and probably will be off the table," she said.

Leading members of the Senate have already said they will take the provision in their bill, which does not require counseling like the House provision does, out of their bill.

Sen. Charles Grassley, a pro-life Republican from Iowa, said last week that it would be removed and Sen. Kent Conrad, a top Democrat from North Dakota, has confirmed it has been dropped.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, also predicted that the provision would not remain in the Senate version of the pro-abortion government-run health care plan.

“I don’t want a bunch of nameless, faceless bureaucrats setting health care for my aged citizens in Utah,” said Hatch on ABC.

During his town hall forum in Colorado over the weekend, Obama said pro-life advocates are being “dishonest” about the end-of-life provision and its effect.

“I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love, who is aging, deteriorate and have to struggle with that,” Obama said. “We’ve got enough stuff to deal with without having these kinds of arguments.”

Compassion & Choices, a pro-euthanasia group, publicly admitted to writing the controversial portions of the legislation that deal with rationing.

On the organization’s web site, a spokesman confirms Compassion’s involvement, writing, "Compassion & Choices has worked tirelessly with supportive members of Congress to include in proposed reform legislation a provision requiring Medicare to cover patient consultation with their doctors about end-of-life choice (section 1233 of House Bill 3200)."

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