Rep. Chaffetz Embraces "Death Panels"

January 04, 2011 9:30 am ET — Kate Conway

You might've thought the phony issue of "death panels" — the trumped-up controversy over provisions to pay doctors for providing end-of-life counseling — was over, but Republicans have wasted no time stirring up the furor again in the lead-up to their planned show vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) joined the fray when he tacitly endorsed Fox News host Andrew Napolitano's characterization of the "death panels" returning at the hand of a "socialist" "bureaucrat." Chaffetz responded to Napolitano's question by saying that the "so-called death panels" are "business as usual" for the administration.

NAPOLITANO: Congressman Chaffetz, you remember the vote in the House of Representatives on Christmas Eve, 2009, which passed Obamacare — at least, sent it back to the Senate. One of the things they had to take out of there in order to get certain Democrats to vote was what Sarah Palin called the death panels. Were you surprised when almost a year to the day later, on Christmas of this year, the death panels somehow, by the decision of a bureaucrat, and a socialist one at that, came back?

CHAFFETZ: Well I guess with this administration nothing really surprises me, unfortunately. The White House has used the tactic of the calendar — they did it with the EPA, they did it with the Department of Interior, trying to do a western land grab on December 23rd, and now this with the so-called death panels. It's business as usual, but it's not the will of the people and that's why the Congress has to act. You can't just unilaterally go do things. You know, this is not a kingdom for the president. You've got to actually go through the process of openness, transparency, and go through the House and the Senate. And we gotta fight back on this.


Just like the last time "death panels" became an issue, those doomy boards of bureaucrats deciding the fate of the nation's helpless grandparents are fictitious. This time, the uproar stems from regulations written by the Obama administration specifying that Medicare will compensate doctors for voluntary discussions with patients on end-of-life care. That means that doctors will be able to talk about important end-of-life issues with their patients, helping them understand the decisions they and their families will face and enabling them to specify the level of care they want to receive.