Republican Party Runs New Health Care Ad Blasting Rationing, Targets Seniors

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican Party Runs New Health Care Ad Blasting Rationing, Targets Seniors

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 1
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The Republican Party has entered the health care debate on Capitol Hill with a new television commercial that blasts the congressional bills for rationing care. The ad is meant to reach seniors who are concerned about the quality of life and "death panels" components of the bills.

The ad will run in Florida and on cable networks across the country and it attacks the pro-abortion health care bills for cutting Medicare, rationing health care treatments and allowing the government to push certain end-of-life decisions.

“When you disagree with Washington, how come they act like it’s your problem?” RNC chairman Michael Steele asks in the spot. “That’s what the Democrats have done with health care. They say you’re the problem.”

The ad touts the new Seniors Bill of Rights the Republican Party has put forward as a way to craft a health care bill that doesn’t ration care or wind up supporting assisted suicide.

"Congress should always consider health care proposals that protect senior citizens," Steele says. "For starters, [the bill should] make it illegal to ration health care based on age, and it should prevent any government role in end-of-life care."

"These are things we should all agree on," he says. "Oh, and President Obama — it’s not too late to change your mind."

Steele also released a statement accompanying the ad.

“Republicans strongly support common-sense health care reform that would lower health care costs, preserve quality, keep families and doctors in charge of health care decisions, and end frivolous lawsuits ,” Steele said. “However, the first measure of any comprehensive health care reform must be to first do no harm, especially to seniors.”

“The time has come for President Obama and congressional Democrats to scrap their plans for a government-run health care experiment," he added.

The House health care bill has been criticized for giving doctors financial incentives to push rationed care or, in some states, assisted suicide.
At issue is Section 1233 of HR 3200, the government-run health care plan that the House will consider when it returns from its August recess.

The measure would pay physicians to give Medicare patients end-of-life counseling every five years or sooner if the patient has a terminal diagnosis.

While pro-life advocates say the section opens the door to physicians pushing euthanasia or withdrawal of lifesaving medical treatment, or even basic food and water, backers of the bill call the claims rubbish.

Charles Lane, a member of the editorial board of the liberal Washington Post newspaper, wrote earlier this month that at least some of the concerns are well-founded.

"As I read it, Section 1233 is not totally innocuous," Lane writes, adding that it "addresses compassionate goals in disconcerting proximity to fiscal ones."

"Though not mandatory, as some on the right have claimed, the consultations envisioned in Section 1233 aren’t quite ‘purely voluntary,’" as backers of the bill assert, Lane adds. "To me, ‘purely voluntary’ means ‘not unless the patient requests one.’ Section 1233, however, lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive — money — to do so. Indeed, that’s an incentive to insist."

"Patients may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority. Once they’re in the meeting, the bill does permit ‘formulation’ of a plug-pulling order right then and there," Lane explains.

"What’s more, Section 1233 dictates, at some length, the content of the consultation," Lane continues.

He points out the legislation says the doctor "shall" discuss "advanced care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to"; "an explanation of . . . living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses" even though those are legal and not medical papers. The physician "shall" present "a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families."

"Admittedly, this script is vague and possibly unenforceable," Lane writes. "What are "key questions"? Who belongs on ‘a list’ of helpful ‘resources?’ The Roman Catholic Church? Jack Kevorkian?"

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