EDITORIAL: Health-reform lies

Lies and distortions about counseling for end-of-life health directives that would be offered as a covered service in one version of plans under consideration in Congress further complicates an already difficult debate.
E-mails have widely spread false information on the Internet, and it has been exploited, in some cases by stridently partisan opponents of health care reform, as gospel.
This is the fact: The 1,000-page-plus bill known as HR3200 contains language that, if enacted, would offer health-professional counseling to individuals about which advance directives, if any, they might use to define the kind of care they receive in final illnesses.
The practice of advance-care directives is widespread and accepted. It includes living wills with explicit instructions about what should be done for individuals in final illnesses, and what should not be done. It allows people to make ethical, legal, moral choices about treatments, prolonging life, and when additional treatment should not be pursued.
Many physicians, hospitals and clergy urge their patients and congregants to consider such directives as a matter of personal choice.
Nothing in HR3200 requires end-of-life-choices, nor does it require even counseling about possible choices. It’s simply an option available for discussion.
The bill requires that any choices discussed conform to the laws of the state in which an individual resides.
Page 424 of the text of HR3200 allows this:
“An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses. … An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy. … The provision by the practitioner of a list of 23 of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline, the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965). … An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.”
The Web site is energycommerce.house.gov.
If you receive any e-mail that makes claims about health care reform, no matter what direction those claims lean, check they facts before you send it to someone else.
The proposed reforms are complex, and getting them right as a proposal, much less a new law, is unfairly burdened by unprincipled claims that are rooted in lies and casually tossed around in the name of opposition.
Many good causes lose to treachery.
Decide health-care reforms on the truth.

NEMS Daily Journal

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