RNC "Research" Tries To Portray Democrats As Encouraging Euthanasia

July 28, 2009 2:34 pm ET

On July 28, 2009, the RNC released a research document titled, "What 2 Watch 4: Obama Vs. Seniors," that asserts "Obama's Government-Run Health Care Experiment Will Be Devastating For Seniors."  However, like other recent GOP assertions that the Democrats' plan to reform health insurance will hurt America's seniors, this document is grossly misleading.

RNC Again Attempts To Portray Democrats As Killers Of The Elderly

RNC Claim:

"Government-Run Health Care Bill Would Dictate Terms Of End-Of-Life Care For Seniors. 'Section 1233: Advance Care Planning Consultation means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner ... regarding advance care planning, if ... the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. 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 ... The level of treatment indicated may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions.' (H.R. 3200, 'America's Affordable Health Choices Act,' Introduced 7/14/09)" [GOP.com, 7/28/09]

As Media Matters Action Network has shown, this consultation will provide a compassionate service for senior citizens.

"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]

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]

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]

RNC Distorts Goal Of Comparative Effectiveness Research

RNC Claim:

"Dems' Plans 'Comparative Effectiveness Research' Could Lead To Denial Of Treatments To Seniors. 'Slipped into the bill was substantial funding for comparative effectiveness research, which is generally code for limiting care based on the patient's age. Economists are familiar with the formula, where the cost of a treatment is divided by the number of years (called QALYs, or quality-adjusted life years) that the patient is likely to benefit ... When comparative effectiveness research appeared in the stimulus bill, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., (R., La.) a heart surgeon, warned that it would lead to 'denying seniors and the disabled lifesaving care.' He and Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) proposed amendments to no avail that would have barred the federal government from using the research to eliminate treatments for the elderly or deny care based on age.' (Betsy McCaughey, Op-Ed, 'GovernmentCare's Attack On Seniors,' The Wall Street Journal, 7/23/09)" [GOP.com, 7/28/09]

Comparative Effectiveness Research Is The Comparison Of Medical Treatments.  According to the Washington Post's Business Columnist, Steven Pearlstein, "comparative effectiveness research" refers to "research done by doctors and statisticians who troll through large number of patient records to determine, for any particular disease, which treatments work best." [Washington Post, 2/13/09]

  • NIH Had A Budget Of $335 Million For Comparative Effectiveness Research Last Year. According to the Washington Post's Business Columnist, Steven Pearlstein, "there's nothing particularly new about comparative effectiveness research -- the National Institutes of Health, along with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, have been doing it for years, with a budget last year of about $335 million." [Washington Post, 2/13/09]

Applied Properly, CER Empowers Patients To Make The Best Choices For Their Own Medical Care. In a post on U.S. News, Michelle Andrews wrote, "This is good stuff, not only for the medical establishment but also for patients, who are increasingly expected to play an active role in managing and paying for their healthcare." [USNews.com, 3/23/09]

When Patients Have Access To CER Data, "They Make Better Decisions, They're More Satisfied, And In General Their Cost Is Less."  Michelle Andrews, "On Health & Money" writer for US News & World Report, posted the following on her blog: "'We have found that if people have information about the comparative effectiveness of testing for prostate cancer, for example, or a back operation, they make better decisions, they're more satisfied, and in general their cost is less,' says Eric Larson, executive director of the Group Health Center for Health Studies." [USNews.com, 3/23/09]

Furthermore, Betsy McCaughey's opinion on what she thinks is included in health care legislation is hardly credible.