Angry pro-life leaders are calling on the incoming 112th Congress to revoke a new Obama administration regulation resuscitating "death panels," which were rejected by the last congress after a public uproar threatened the passage of the president's signature health care bill.
At the request of several Democratic lawmakers, the administration quietly slipped language into a Medicare regulation paying doctors to provide "end-of-life" consultations with patients. Doctors will instruct patients how to write "advance directives" listing what types of treatment they wish to receive, or not receive, if they are hospitalized in such poor condition that they are unable to make health care decisions.
The new regulation was revealed by the New York Times on Dec. 26. The regulation will go into force Jan. 1.
"Nothing good can come of this," said Judie Brown, the president of American Life League. "This will affect everybody's parents and grandparents and preborn babies, and it will not affect anybody for the good."
Congress must step up to cancel the regulation, Brown added. "If not, a death certificate is written for an awful lot of elderly people."
"Those of us who voted in common-sense representatives to take control of the House will be expecting to see reversals of regulations like these that run roughshod over the will of the American people," said Dr. Janice Crouse, director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America.
"This new Congress has to pass a law that revokes this new Medicare regulation because we're going to see pressure on the elderly to end their lives prematurely," said Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver. "This regulation is more egregious than the original Obama health care legislation."
The original legislation provided for end-of-life counseling once every five years, Staver explained, but the new regulation pays doctors to counsel their patients every year during the annual "wellness" appointment provided by Medicare.
"I'm not opposed to having end-of-life directives but the problem is when a doctor gets paid to consult annually with his patients," said Staver. "Doctors will have a financial incentive to counsel patients on end-of-life care.
"When you have the government mandating this end-of-life counseling, they're conscripting doctors to do end-of-life counseling on a massive scale. It will be the equivalent of a super death panel. Elderly patients will get confused and will end up signing documents without having a clue what they're signing, and they will sign away care they might really want."
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman called the Obama approach "Darwinist," and predicted it would lead to rationing of health care.
"When you have a fixed amount of money that is allocated to health care, it's only logical that some bureaucrat will regulate it and decide who will get treatment," Newman told WND. "That treatment will be based on some humanist, egalitarian principle that these bureaucrats always seem to hold. Their principles are Darwinist, survival of the fittest.
"My grandmother is 94 years old," Newman continued. "Suppose she breaks her hip. Are they really going to authorize that expense over a 16-year-old who has urgent needs? It was Obama who said maybe Grandma should take a pill rather than get this expensive treatment."
Brown said the terms "end-of-life counseling" and "death panel" are "interchangeable."
"The term 'death panel' is a creation of Sarah Palin and it's been picked up by everyone. It's the same as a consultation with a family to determine when someone is to receive care. Many times these so-called consultations will be to coerce and convince a family that a person is better off dead and should be put out of his misery. You can call it anything you want, but those terms are interchangeable."
"The media had a heyday making fun of Sarah Palin when she first talked about death panels," said Crouse, "Now, the New York Times presents a blase report accepting the fact of the existence of "end-of-life" decisions that were at the heart of the massive health care reform package that Obama, Reid and Pelosi rammed through during the 111th Congress.
"Having just returned from the funeral of a dear lady – widow of a Navy man, both buried at Arlington National Cemetery – I couldn't be more repulsed by the idea of government-controlled death panels that will make end-of-life decisions for the most vulnerable of our citizens," Crouse added.