Many commentators have debunked the horrible distortion (see, e.g., here) and have exposed the hypocrisy of Palin and Grassley on this issue. Nevertheless, the fearless and factless duo continue their assault on the truth.
Palin -- obviously believing that adding footnotes to a lie transforms it into the truth -- released yet another Facebook statement on the perils of liberal death squads. And Grassley invoked the image of the government pulling "the plug on grandma" in order to scare constituents into believing his deceit.
Two Medical Experts Rebut Palin and Grassley
CNN has published a very thoughtful essay written by two medical experts who, based on their area of expertise, probably have a lot of experience with patients who could benefit from end-of-life counseling. Douglas W. Blayney, MD and Brenda Nevidjon, RN have authored an op-ed for CNN that rebuts conservative distortion of the legislation and that explains why the provision would advance patient care.
Blayney "is president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. He specializes in the treatment of breast cancer and lymphoma and was in private practice for 17 years in California." Nevidjon "is president of the Oncology Nursing Society and clinical professor of nursing at Duke University School of Nursing. She was the first nurse and first woman to be chief operating officer of Duke University Hospital."
Responding to the Deception
Blayney and Nevidjon argue that the conservative depiction of the provision is "completely false":
This provision simply provides for Medicare to pay for voluntary conversations between patients and their health care practitioners on the difficult but important subject of planning for care at the end of life.Medical Benefits of End-of-Life Counseling
The provision is purely optional, and patients would be able to choose whether to discuss the issue with their practitioners. For those who decide to do so, there would be clear benefits.
Blayney and Nevidjon also discuss the medical benefits of having advanced end-of-life counseling -- something critics of the healthcare proposal universally ignore. This type of counseling, as the American Medical Association has concluded (see AMA policy E225), can ensure that end-of-life treatment will reflect the patient's intent:
We discuss end-of-life care with patients to fulfill our commitment to them throughout the course of their care. When a disease cannot be cured, we can assure our patients that we can make them comfortable in their last days. When these conversations are done in advance and done well, everyone benefits -- patients, families and all members of our care teams.Rebutting Palin and Grassley's lies has wasted precious time and energy. There are many aspects of the proposed legislation that warrant debate. Palin and Grassley have disserved the public with their intentional distortion of the proposed healthcare legislation.
As practitioners, we know from experience that discussions with patients in the end stages of their cancers and with their family members may be long and emotional, but ultimately lead to end-of-life care centered on the patient's wishes. We have seen many patients who were well-cared-for by their families, with professional help, and were comfortable in their surroundings.