CommunityFDL Main Blog

Iowa Dept of Elder Affairs Supports Pulling the Plug on Grandma?


Where to begin? Maybe here:

"Until last week this was basically a nonpartisan issue," said John Rother, executive vice president for policy at AARP, the seniors lobbying group. "People across the political spectrum recognize that far too often people’s wishes aren’t respected at the end of life and there is a lot of unnecessary suffering." 

What a difference a week makes. Or should that be "weak"? From the Des Moines Register:

Sen. Charles Grassley made headlines this week when he criticized parts of a U.S. House bill that would pay for counseling for older Americans’ final years, but in 2003, he supported legislation that included Medicare reimbursement for some end-of-life services.

Aides to the Iowa Republican noted several differences between the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill’s provisions for end-of-life counseling and those in the health care bill now before the House.

The 2003 Medicare bill provided reimbursement for services only to patients diagnosed as terminally ill.

Under H.R. 3200, a health care bill now pending in the House, all seniors would be eligible for occasional Medicare-reimbursed counseling services. The voluntary services could be provided by any physician.

Grassley played to the GOP’s nuttiest fringe, making their fevered nightmarish fears of government making end of life decisions for everyone into the official position of the GOP. Grassley’s not alone in this play, but from his perch on the Senate Finance Committee, he’s got more leverage to derail things. Thus, he was able to pull the provision out of that committee’s discussion, because it might be misinterpreted to mean "pulling the plug on grandma".

Gosh, wherever would someone get that idea, Senator?

But look at what he’s doing here . . .

Don’t you just love Grassley’s idea of what to do if something is subject to possible misinterpretation? Some might take to the cameras to correct the bad information. Some might reach out to non-partisan experts in the field, to get them out front on this. But not Chuck Grassley. His approach is apparently, "If someone doesn’t understand, let’s let their misunderstanding stand, and shut down any effort to do anything."

(Wouldn’t it have been nice if he’d had the same approach to the FISA amendments or the Authorization to use Military Force in Iraq? But I digress . . .)

The Iowa state government’s Department of Elder Affairs isn’t afraid of this, Senator. They’ve got a great brochure on advance medical directives [pdf] — and no one has said that they are trying to pull the plug on grandma. 

Or at least not yet. Once Grassley gets word of this, I’m sure he’ll ride to the defense of Iowa’s grandmas, from Keokuk to Sioux Falls.

Meanwhile, people who work with the dying, from pastors to nurses to doctors to social workers like Thers’ late mother, will continue to do the compassionate work that is so desperately needed. Too bad folks like Grassley are making life that much harder for all of us.

(photo from Grassley’s Senate website)

Previous post

Interview with U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) on Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal

Next post

WaPo's Hiatt May Grasp Health Reform When He Loses His Job; Until Then . . .



I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.