Washington The Medicare end-of-life planning provision that 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said was tantamount to “death panels” for seniors is staying in the Democratic health care bill, unveiled Thursday.
The provision allows Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling to help beneficiaries deal with the complex and painful decisions families face when a loved one is approaching death.
When House Democrats proposed this summer to pay doctors for end-of-life counseling, prominent Republicans singled it out as a glaring example of government overreach. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told constituents at a town hall meeting they had reason to question the proposal. “I don’t have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family,” he said.
The provision’s sponsor said the criticism may have helped. “I think the outrageous and vindictive attacks may have backfired to help raise awareness about this problem, which is why it’s been kept in the bill,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.