Fear-mongering stands in way of vital counseling

August 17, 2009

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THE LIES that have been told by Senator Chuck Grassley, Sarah Palin, and others about the so-called death panels have caused funding for end-of-life counseling to be removed from the Senate health care reform bill (Page A1, Aug. 14). This is wrong, and will deprive seriously ill individuals and their families of information that can help them make difficult decisions about their wishes. This counseling is voluntary and would not force anyone to do anything; it would simply assure that doctors will be reimbursed for their time, as they are reimbursed for other care they give.

I am qualified to speak about this subject because I received such counseling late last year, which led me to choose in-home hospice care as my best option. The ability to get my questions answered and to explore the consequences of various choices was key in my decision-making. I am saddened by the idea that other seriously ill individuals may be denied this counseling (because if it is not a reimbursable service, it is less likely to be made available); the fact that deliberate and cynical fear-mongering drove this decision outrages me.

Judi Chamberlin

WHAT A bunch of cowards! The town hall bullies with the loud voices and the holstered firearms seem to have gotten their way, at least in the case of end-of-life counseling.

I have had to make wrenching end-of-life decisions for both of my parents. My father died many years ago after a prolonged illness, but without any clear directives made ahead of time. Because of that experience, my mother and I had many such conversations that allowed me to make difficult but loving decisions when she was being kept alive by machinery.

I know so many people who have had this experience that it is hard to know what the hysteria about federal “death panels’’ is based on. Ironically, my conversations with my mother about her wishes did not really require a doctor, but a doctor’s prompting would have been fine, and it would have made the decisions for my father much easier.

It is possible that an end-of-life provision is not really needed in this healthcare reform effort, and could have been dropped from consideration after a rational public conversation. But I hate to see it rejected because of cowardice and mob rule.

Bob Follansbee

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