Rep. Foxx Says Health Care Reform Will Cause Seniors To Be "Put To Death By Their Government"

July 28, 2009 2:07 pm ET

On July 28, 2009, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) stated on the floor of the House that the Republicans' health care reform legislation, unlike that of the Democrats, would not put seniors "to death."  Besides being a reprehensible accusation, her words are blatantly false.

Rep. Foxx: Republicans Are Pro-Life Because They Don't Want Seniors Put To Death

Rep. Foxx: The Republican plan would "make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government."

The Democratic Legislation Actually Provides Professional Guidance For Seniors' Difficult Decisions - NOT To Encourage Euthanasia

Like other Republicans before her, Rep. Foxx is basing her statement on a clause in the House bill guaranteeing seniors free counseling to help them with complex decisions.

"Advance Care Planning Consultation" Would Provide Seniors With Professional Advice On Will Preparation, Power Of Attorney, And Other Complicated Issues.  PolitiFact.com reported: "Indeed, Sec. 1233 of the bill, labeled 'Advance Care Planning Consultation' details how the bill would, for the first time, require Medicare to cover the cost of end-of-life counseling sessions. According to the bill, 'such consultation shall include the following: An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to; an explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses; an explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.'" [PolitiFact.com, 7/16/09]

  • Medicare Will Pay For Increased Counseling If The Senior Citizen Becomes Ill And Would Like Additional Information. According to PolitiFact.com: "Medicare will cover one session every five years, the legislation states. If a patient becomes very ill in the interim, Medicare will cover additional sessions." [PolitiFact.com, 7/16/09]
  • Counseling Is NOT Mandatory. In regards to the "mandatory" assertion, PolitiFact.com reported: "For his part, Keyserling said he and outside counsel read the language carefully to make sure that was not the case. 'Neither of us can come to the conclusion that it's mandatory.' he said. 'This new consultation is just like all in Medicare: it's voluntary.' 'The only thing mandatory is that Medicare will have to pay for the counseling,' said Dau." [PolitiFact.com, 7/16/09]

Bill Provides Funding For Seniors To Have Access To Serious Medical Information.  As reported by PolitiFact.com, "Jon Keyserling, general counsel and vice president of public policy for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, which supports the provision, said the bill doesn't encourage seniors to end their lives, it just allows some important counseling for decisions that take time and consideration. 'These are very serious conversations,' he said. 'It needs to be an informative conversation from the medical side and it needs to be thought about carefully by the patient and their families.' In no way would these sessions be designed to encourage patients to end their lives, said Jim Dau, national spokeman [sic] for AARP." [PolitiFact.com, 7/16/09]

Patients Suffer When Their Doctors Are Not Aware Of Their Wishes.  According to CNN: "Discussing end-of-life care is difficult for everyone involved, but it should be done early on, doctors say.  Many aging parents and grandparents resist talking about it because of the emotional pain the issue will cause their younger relatives; and the children who will become responsible don't want to appear ungrateful or self-serving by mentioning it, [Dr. Arthur Kellerman, Emory University] said. Many doctors don't want to talk about it either, he said.  'There are a lot of my colleagues who don't bother having that conversation. They just intubate them, and ship them up to an ICU, and say 'next,'' Kellerman said." [CNN.com, 7/23/09]

  • Doctors Can Misinterpret What Their Patients' Wishes Are. According to CNN, a study found a large "disconnect between what patients wanted and what their doctors thought they wanted...'Just a few simple words like, 'This must be a very scary time for you. Tell me what your thoughts are,'' can make a big difference, said lead author Dr. Joan Teno, professor of community health and medicine at Brown University School of Medicine." [CNN.com, 7/23/09]

Patients Are Unable To Convey Their Wishes Because Of A Lack Of Doctor Availability.  CNN reported: "Some people have signed advance directives to their children -- legal documents stating what they want to happen in terms of end-of-life decisions -- but don't talk to their children about them, Kellerman said...Beyond the advance directive, doctors need a plan for care with the patient to make sure that the person's goals are honored, Teno said. A problem behind a general lack of communication between doctors and patients is the shortage of primary care physicians in the United States, Rich said. A 2008 study found that the U.S. could face a shortage of up to 44,000 family physicians and general internists by 2025, according to researchers from the University of Missouri." [CNN.com, 7/23/09]

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