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Johnny Isakson’s “Death Panel” Plea – 2008 Edition

Johnny Isakson got kicked around by Rush Limbaugh after when Obama cited his support for end of life counseling in refuting Sarah Palin’s "death panel" nonsense. He released an irate statement distancing himself:

Isakson vehemently opposes the House and Senate health care bills and he played no role in drafting language added to the House bill by House Democrats calling for the government to incentivize doctors by offering them money to conduct “end-of-life counseling” with Medicare patients every five years. Isakson also strongly opposed the House bill language calling for doctors to follow a government-mandated list of topics to discuss with patients during the counseling sessions.

By contrast, Isakson took a very different approach in July during the Senate HELP Committee hearings on the Senate version of the health care bill. Isakson’s amendment to the Senate bill says that anyone who participates in the long-term care benefit provided in the bill – if they so choose – may use that benefit to obtain assistance in formulating their own living will and durable power of attorney.

Isakson asserts that there’s a huge gulf between his "suggestions" and what the House bill says. But here he is in 2008 on the floor of the Senate:

I will talk about what we need to do in terms of Medicare eligibility. When somebody signs up for Medicare when they are 65 years old–you are supposed to go in 90 days before your 65th birthday; I am getting close, so I am looking at these things–I think you ought to be required to execute a durable power of attorney when you become eligible.

Eighty percent of the cost of health care to me, to you, and to anybody else happens in the last 60 days of life. More often than not, people are not in a condition to make a decision for themselves. Because of laws, and because we are a compassionate nation, the physician will keep you alive as long as he can. If you had a chance, you might rather say if I am being hydrated and given nutrition but will never become conscious again, I give the doctors the authority to make the appropriate medical decision. The money that would save is in the “gazillions” of dollars–if there is such a number. It would help us to manage that cost.

I wonder what Sarah Palin would say about "rationing care" like that.

h/t scarce

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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