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'Death panels' reappear on Capitol Hill

The White House has announced the revival of a proposal that almost put an end to passage of Obamacare – the widely criticized “death panels” that press physicians to have talks with their patients about end times, and to advise accordingly.

The Obama administration said it’s proposed a reimbursement scale for doctors who do have that talk with their patients, the Los Angeles Times reported. The plan, stemming from the Department of Health and Human Services, was tucked inside a massive Medicare regulatory bill unveiled on Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Under the proposal, patients would not be required to talk to their doctors about end-of-life care. Rather, the measure only provides a means for doctors to bill Medicare for “advance-care planning,” should the patient have such discussion, the news outlet said.

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The text of the rule suggests a billable discussion could include the “discussion of advance directives such as standard forms (with completion of such forms, when performed) by the physician or other qualified health professional,” the Los Angeles Times said.

Supporters say the proposal simply gives doctors a tool to discuss patients’ preferences for eleventh-hour medical care.

Critics, however, say such notions actually put the federal government in charge of deciding how medical care will be provided for the elderly or those with incurable diseases and ailments. Critics also say the plan will actually pressure the elderly or ill to sign documents they otherwise might not.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was among the loudest critics of the medical proposal when it was introduced as a facet of Obamacare years ago. She said the health care reform would in effect create a “death panel” of medical and government advisers who would ultimately determine the care for a patient based on cost, age and a host of other factors.