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FORUMS General Discussions Politics Death Panels Do we need them
TOPIC: Death Panels Do we need them
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The twilight of life

First, we need to remember where the term "death panel" came from. The idea had fairly broad support until funding for it was included in Obamacare. Opponents framed it as government bureaucrats pulling the plug on grandma (when it was really about doctors being realistic with patients), and amid a backlash, it was pulled.

That was stupid. These questions demand far more serious discussion.

The fact is, 25% of all Medicare spending goes to the 5% of recipients who die each year --with 80% of that in the last two months of life. This is aggressive spending on things like stays in intensive care and critical care units, which research has shown do not meet the needs and preferences of terminal patients despite its increasing use.

Especially when combined with the growing evidence supporting the benefits of less-expensive, palliative hospice care that allows people to enjoy their last days on this earth in peace at home, not poked, prodded and intubated, floating in and out of consciousness under the fluorescent lights of a $30,000-a-night hospital room.

The popular backlash against death panels gave politicians in Washington reason to fear the topic in general.

But by avoiding the issue, we're choosing to increase the burden on future generations by piling on debt, raising taxes, weakening our defenses, neglecting needed investments and generally damaging the future vitality of the country. This is nothing less than a slow-burn moral disgrace and a reversal of the archetype of parental self-sacrifice and responsibility.

Medicare on the Chopping Block

We can't have it all anymore. Think about that before you feign outrage.

If we're going to truly address the long-term budget problems that threaten the welfare of our children and our children's children, we need to address Medicare and, in particular, end-of-life care -- a topic that's been off limits since Sarah Palin unleashed the debate four years ago.

Pittsburgh PA
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TOPIC: Death Panels Do we need them