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Why Fear of Death Panels is Real

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Jim in Nashville, great to have you on Open Line Friday. Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Pleasure to talk to you.

RUSH: Same here, sir.

CALLER: I feel like I should preface this by saying I followed you for years since the television days, and I agree with you almost all the time. But the other day you said something that really upset me, and I've heard it go by a lot of conservatives and that was your comments regarding death panels. I am a doctor and I do end-of-life care, and so I am intimately involved with this subject. And the thing that bothers me, and you're the political expert so you can discuss I think more about what you feel is the meaning behind what was written in the health proposal. But I think there's a bigger issue, Rush, and that is the way that death is approached and handled in this country, and the thing is that whenever people start talking about the death panels it seems like the bigger issue gets swept under the rug. My question for you is, when four out of five people that die in this country are over 65, meaning they're Medicare recipients, and the way that death is approached in this country needs to be addressed and education needs to be put into it, how do we do that without everyone becoming alarmed by the language that is in the panel or that is in the document?

RUSH: That's not the question that I was debating. That is an entirely different matter. All I was pointing out was that something that was not in the original Obamacare bill was going to be added in December, and that was that doctors who are paid by Medicare, because they see Medicare patients, were going to be told that if they ceased having at least once a year end-of-life discussion sessions, counseling sessions with their parents, that they were not going to be reimbursed, they were gonna be frozen out. In other words, it was a mild form of blackmail. You either implement government policy and you tell these patients about dying, you counsel them on it, whatever it is, or we're no longer gonna reimburse you for the work you do with any Medicaid patient. So that was properly seen as an attempt by the administration to sneak something back in by executive order. This was not done legislatively.

It was kept out because it caused such a firestorm of opposition when it was first learned, when people started reading the original health care bill, they took it out because it was imperiling even Democrat votes, 'cause anything that even got close to confirming the existence of death panels, after all, what's a death panel? A death panel is some agent of the government getting involved in a discussion with a patient, and if you're a doctor being paid by Medicare, the government, being told you have to do this, you're seen as an agent of government, talk about their death and counseling them on ways, so forth. If it could get anywhere close to where people could say you are counseling somebody to get out of the way, accept that death is imminent, anything like that, then the death panel discussion is back and it's a political problem for Democrats. And that's why the whole thing came up, and it's been pulled again because they tried to sneak it in on the executive side just the latter part of December.

CALLER: Yeah, and I'm aware that it was pulled back out, and I agree with that, 'cause I don't know any doctor, including myself, and especially colleagues I have that do end-of-life care, I think we all operate under the premise of autonomy and people should be able to make decisions, but what bothers me -- and I mean I was watching on Fox the other day, and the same thing happen because I see conservatives, which I consider myself one --

RUSH: Yeah.

CALLER: -- when they start talking about death in the country, they start talking about, "Well, everybody's gonna die and it's not like you need to be counseled on death," and even you acknowledged the other day, "Well, maybe you should be counseled on some of the emotional aspects of --"

RUSH: No, it's because Obama himself in one of the debates on ABC TV about this, when a woman asked about her hundred-year-old grandmother who needed a hearing aid or some such thing, she asked Obama if that would be part of the coverage. He said, (paraphrasing) "No, no, we gotta start talking quality of life, too, we can't calculate spirit and how much she wants to live. Give her a pill. People like that we should just give 'em a pill." So hip replacement or some such thing, just give 'em a pill, it's all incorporated. People know who this guy is. That's why this stuff can't be separated out.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I want to get into a little bit more detail, just a couple more things I want to say on this end of life stuff, death panel, but I will say this before we go to the break, I've had these discussions, but not with a doctor. Lawyer, family planning, financial people, but not with a doctor, and certainly not a doctor paid by the government who is paying for my care.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Two more things on this end of life business. First, I want you to rehear the Obama sound bite, June 24th of 2009, ABC News, primetime questions for the president, Prescription for America. This is during the thrust, if you will, of the health care debate. An audience member Jane Sturm -- it's a handpicked audience, by the way -- Jane Sturm stood up, she said: "My mother is now over 105. But at 100, the doctors said to her, 'I can't do anything more unless you have a pacemaker.' I said, 'Go for it.' She said, 'Go for it.' But the specialist said, 'No, she's too old.' But when the other specialist saw her and saw her joy of life, he said, 'I'm going for it.' That was over five years ago. ... Outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody who is elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of living, a quality of life, or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?"

Now, before we get to Obama's answer, I have to tell you as an American, the fact that that question was being asked in my country in 2009 sent chills down my back. Here's an American citizen asking the president if her mother could get a pacemaker. We're in certain circumstances here where this woman has to go to the government, in this case the top dog, and get permission for a pacemaker, "Will Medicare, Medicaid pay for this?" Stop and think about that. I mean, you expect that to happen in Cuba or with the ChiComs or something, but it's a television show featuring the great unifying Barack Obama, and this woman, "Are you going to let my mother live?" I don't know about you, folks, but when I was growing up there are a number of things I thought never would happen to me. One of them is having to ask a government official for permission for any kind of medical procedure, or further, to ask a government official if I could get a medical procedure. I just never computed it. Here, this woman is saying, (paraphrasing) "My mother, she got it, she was fine, the specialist wouldn't give it to her, but they took her will to live into account, one specialist did, saw her spirit and love for life. Would you, Mr. President, factor that in when you decide who gets to live and die?"

OBAMA: I don't think that we can make judgments based on people's "spirit." Uh, that would be, uh, a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that, uh, say that, uh, we are going to provide good quality care for all people. End-of-life care is one of the most difficult sets of decisions that we're going to have to make. But understand that those decisions are already being made in one way or another. If they're not being made under Medicare and Medicaid, they're being made by private insurers. At least we can let doctors know -- and your mom know -- that you know what, maybe this isn't going to help. Maybe you're better off, uhh, not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.

RUSH: So on national TV the president of the United States told this woman essentially, "No, your mother's will to live, we're not gonna factor that in, we can't make judgments based on that. Too subjective. Take the pill. Take the painkiller. Take the painkiller instead of getting a pacemaker." So that's why death panels, end-of-life counseling, we know what this guy -- look, folks, we also understand this: The government's in charge paying for all these people's health care. We know they don't have the money. We know they're gonna have to ration. We know how they're gonna ration. You talk about subjective judgments, the judgment's gonna be who is most worthwhile for us to invest the medical cost in: somebody that's gonna die next year or somebody that's gonna take another 50 or 60 years to die? That's, sadly, what we've come to.

I'll tell you something else about this. The real scary thing about death panels, I've had end-of-life discussions with family planning financial experts and lawyers and members of the family. But I've yet to have one with a doctor. The documents that I'm preparing with all these other people tell the doctor what to do. I don't need negotiation with the doctor, leaving him out of it. You see, the scary thing about death panels is leaving the authority over treatment, end of life and otherwise, to the very people who have a conflict of interest. And the people who have the conflict of interest are the government because they're charged with reducing costs. The government is the paying agent here in this case and in most of health care cases, the way we're headed, the government's the paying agent even if it's your insurance company, the government's the paying agent and they're charged with reducing costs? And they're gonna decide, tell your doctor he gets reimbursed or not? Not good. Just not kosher, this whole discussion.

So the guy that called, the doctor, said he was offended -- nobody was -- well, I'll speak for myself. I was not criticizing doctors in discussing this attempt by the regime again to sneak this provision in that would basically tell doctors, "You don't hold those end-of-life discussions with your patients, you're not getting paid." I mean, A, it's blackmail, and again, the end-of-life discussions take place with lawyers and other family members. You go to LegalZoom.com or whatever. Presumably at the time all this comes into play, you're not able to speak to a doctor. So if you're having end-of-life discussions with a doctor when you're cogent, and you're talking to somebody representing the paying agent -- see, the real thing that's gonna kill everybody -- this is what needs to be more properly stated -- the real thing that's gonna kill everybody is debt panels, the government's debt panels, because the debt panels equal death panels because we are in debt and we don't have the money, and the paying agent is bankrupt, and printing money, and borrowing it from the ChiComs, the paying agent for senior citizens' health care.

And now they want doctors to start having discussions about when it's appropriate for you to just check out. And we remember Colorado Governor Richard Lamm, we know that liberals are liberals and Democrats are Democrats, and we remember this guy saying back in the eighties, 20 years ago plus, this guy said old people have a duty to die and get out of the way. Well, when the president, when the secretary of Health and Human Services, when the paying agent starts talking that way, old people have a duty to die and then they assign doctors to have such conversations or they don't get paid, red flags go up all over the place, pure and simple.

END TRANSCRIPT

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