Should doctors discuss “end-of-life” conditions with their patients and families. My answer is Yes. Should the government have any say in the issue. My answer is No!
This issue came up during debates over the Obama health care legislation. It caused an uproar among voters of many persuasions, so much so that the question was withdrawn from the legislative package.
But now, an Obama appointee attempted to quietly slip it back in after the bill was passed.
This is the way things are done in Washington. Congress passes a bill containing its directives. Then the bureaucrats draw up a series of policies under which the bill is to be enforced. Often the policy of the bureaucrats and political bosses carries the bill far beyond the intent of Congress. This is just such a case.
The policy does not require physicians to discuss end-of-life matters with their patients, but it does offer to pay them to do so. I doubt if may doctors will reject the opportunity to pick up an extra paycheck.
Conservatives are concerned that this is the first step toward government bureaucrats deciding to withhold treatment for the elderly as a cost-reducing measure. Governor Sarah Palin referred to such bureaucratic offices as “death panels.”
Now, I can appreciate having doctors advise patients of end-of-life issues. My step-mother underwent a slow painful death. She issued a “living will” directing the doctors not to attempt to revive her at the end. And her directives were fulfilled. At the end, following her directives, we placed her under the care of the local hospice organization to oversee her final days.
If my health were to decline to that level, and as a former cancer patient, there is a chance that will happen, I fully expect to sign a similar “living will.” But that decision will be made with consultation with my doctors and family. I don’t want the government to be involved.
Each time we have an election, I encourage people to go vote. But every year I encounter a number of people who argue that it is a waste of time and effort.
“Why should I go vote when they are going to do whatever they want to anyway?’
It should not be that way. We the people should express our opinions through out legislators, then the administration should be responsible to carry out the opinion of the voters. This case makes it clear that the non-voters have a case. The voters, through their representatives, said they do not want this policy in the health care system. But the bureaucrats are trying to slip it in unnoticed through the regulatory process.
As I said, I believe that doctors should discuss end-of-life matters with their patients and the patients’ families. But government should not direct those discussions or offer extra pay for them. I oppose government interference in our bedrooms, our kitchens, our bank accounts and especially in the hospital room.
We can make our own decisions without government agencies telling us what to do.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
Looking Forward To Death
01/03/11 at 06:25 AM
Okay, here's the situation.....you have in an inoperable brain tumor that continues to grow.....the only insurance you have is Medicare (i.e. government insurance, funded by taxpayers)....so the doctor is getting paid by "the government".........should he inform you of an extremely expensive treatment that will keep you bedridden and unconscious 23 hours of the day while not discussing palliative care such as that available through Hospice?
All we're saying is here is that the doctor should inform you of all your options.
I don't understand. Why shouldn't the doctor be paid for his time counseling you about your end of life options? You're expecting him to just give that to you for free? If you're on Medicare, he's going to bill for that time anyway, and rightfully so. All the legislation does is authorize your doctor to bill for the end of life counseling if you opt for it.
What's odd is that clearly you are in favor of opting for it. And you even go so far as to say you "believe that doctors should discuss end-of-life matters with their patients and the patients’ families." But you don't want them to be paid for providing this service? Why not? What else do you want for free, Frank?
The medical industrial complex has helped us all. But public health is the reason we live longer and better water-less sewage problems and vaccination for diseases that kill people. Problem is say for example brain tumor that inoperable : our family has let family members die at home but why should I pay for that type of person to be in hospital ? Next when ours have died at home we ALL sacrificed such as time off and no pay for me for that and why should I get pay for that also ? Time off and did not fish for 6 months or hunt nor any NASCAR. My view is maybe a organization is needed to stop CHEMO like a uncle got for prostrate cancer even when he had only 4 weeks of life left.
MC taxpayer : naughty sentence construction from a PHD person ( not " Post Hole Digger " by the way. That said I actually understood your thought. I like your " personal responsibility " concerning your family and end of life view. MORE should be like you. I also do not like NASCAR but my father does but have been to Indy 500 and liked it.