House Health Care Legislation Still Has End-of-Life, Assisted Suicide Problems

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Health Care Legislation Still Has End-of-Life, Assisted Suicide Problems

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 13
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Members of Congress may have added a measure to stop abortion funding in the House version of the government-run health care bill, but the legislation still presents troubles for pro-life advocates. As several pro-life groups noted after the vote, the Family Research Council says they remain.

When the House debated the health care bill, pro-life groups wanted a vote on the Stupak amendment to stop abortion funding but they also sought a vote on an amendments to remove the rationing and assisted suicide concerns.

Thanks to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats who led the House Rules Committee, they didn’t get them.

As a result, as FRC president Tony Perkins tells today, "H.R. 3962 promises to deliver the grim reaper to any patient signed up for the government health plan."

"Under Section 240 of the bill, insurance companies are required to provide information on ‘end-of-life planning’ to people who are looking to enroll in coverage offered by the health insurance exchange," he said.

"In the final bill, Pelosi decided to strip the broader protective language that was adopted in the Energy and Commerce Committee, which means that H.R. 3962 will mandate the distribution of end-of-life materials about assisted suicide options in Oregon and Washington," he explained.

Perkins also said he is worried about the provisions Rep. Earl Blumenauer added at the request of the pro-euthanasia organization Compassion and Choices.

He said the "advance care planning consultations" added as a new optional Medicare-covered benefit "would open the door for Medicare to pay for end-of-life consultations that include assisted suicide options in states where it is legal."

Both provisions include language that claims these sections don’t encourage the promotion of "suicide or assisted suicide."

"But in crafting their state laws, Oregon and Washington redefined the act of assisting in a suicide as ‘death with dignity,’ explicitly stating that such action is not legally considered assisted suicide-even though by medical definition that is exactly what it is," Perkins said.

And with other sections promoting rationing and comparative effectiveness, which leads to rationing of care, Perkins says the health care bill still deserves the opposition of seniors and the disabled.

"Think such rationing of care could never happen? It already has in Oregon, where patients were told their state provided insurance would not cover treatment but would gladly pick up the cost if they went the assisted suicide route. Just don’t call them death panels," he concluded.

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