Slippery Slope to Death Panels?

Fear of Death Panels continues. This is an example:

Just about everyone is talking about how the Dems and the Obama administration snuck the death panels back into Obamacare, and snuck really is the operative word:

“We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”

The e-mail from Rep. Blumenauer’s office continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response.  The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”


Some folks are mostly bothered by the sneaking around, and some are more worried about where these end-of-life consultations will take us.  You know:  euthanasia, assisted-suicide, pulling-the-plug-on-Granny, or however you phrase it.

As the author continues, this is quite a personal issue.  The main issue is the process to to arrive at end of life consultation, where will this lead.  I just want to comment on the latter.

I’ve lived in Oregon for 16 years, and went through the death of my mother in 2004.  In 1994, Oregon passed its Death with Dignity initiative.

At the time there was a great deal of fear about the slippery slope.  Would troublesome relative: “be put out of their misery”?  Would Dr. Kevorkian take advantage of our state?

So have the fears been justified?  Mostly no.  The use of the death with dignity options has been very limited.  Less than 500 people have used it for the period 1998 to 2009, and that is much less than half of a percent of all deaths.  The details are here, with a summary:

Death with Dignity

I think fear regarding this issue reflects that as a nation we don’t deal with death very well.  After all the debate about death panels has to in light of that we all will die, and the so called death panels may at worst mean people who will die will do so sooner.  That seems to be missed.

5 responses to “Slippery Slope to Death Panels?

  1. Thanks for the link, dude! I hope that you are right and the slope is not steep in the long run. If folks are nervous they can use the NRLC living will template, then they could sleep better.

    The whole regulatory monster is scarier than an advance care planning talk with your doctor, huh?

    I gotta admit to finding humor here: “the so called death panels may at worst mean people who will die will do so sooner.”

    Well, yeah. Dying sooner: that’s pretty much what folks are afraid of!


  2. I think you’re absolutely right bruce that we Americans have a problem with death. We seem to see it as something we can avoid if we just try hard enough.

    As for those who are claiming that the story hasn’t been reported, they might want to check out the NBC Nightly News – that’s where I heard about it.

    You know my Dad died a few months ago – the drs’ and rn’s were very helpful and clearly advocating to let nature take its course, although they never said it aloud and left all decisions to us. For families for whom stepping back is a hard choice (for us it was not, Dad was 98), it would be a great comfort to hear from the doc that it’s okay.

  3. I hope I didn’t mischaracterize your post. Let me know if I did.

  4. Well hey there, thanks for asking. Nah, I don’t feel mischaracterized.

    Your post was short and to the point regarding the advance care/living will issue. We may have differing views on that, as reasonable folks will. The IPAB and Berwick stuff is more scary/important to me, that was the only point I really wanted to add.


  5. oh and Happy New Year!

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