Sunday, July 26, 2009

Health Care Scare Tactics

This a.m., a friend of mine forwarded me an email that was sent to her household recently that was entitled "Page 425 Healthcare Bill." In the text of the email, the author wrote, "O.K., folks - I 'think' this will 'shake us up' - read and listen to the Interview - "IF" this does not cause every red-blooded American to contact their Representative, I don't know what will!! It's time for ACTION! Americans!! Both Democrats and Republicans beware."

Wow. Well, let me read on. I certainly am willing to contact my Representative and take ACTION if necessary. (Though, truth be told, I'd already gotten a heads-up from my friend that this was junk - as if the weird punctuation and hyperbole hadn't already alerted me to potential misinformation.)

Seems that (according to this email) page 425 of the health care bill requires euthanasia of grandma. (Actually, requires counseling "to learn and to choose from ways to end your suffering (and your life).") The email goes on to say that seniors will be denied health care and that paying for your own care will not be an option.

How outrageous! How un-American!!

How totally untrue.

Of course. The more outrageous the claim, the more unlikely the veracity of it. But here's the thing: people receive this email and think it may be true. It hurts my heart to imagine that people may think this is true.

Here's the truth. There is a section of the health care bill - beginning on page 425 of the draft - that requires Medicare to pay for a counseling session every five years so that Medicare recipients can receive accurate information with regard to their state's laws and end-of-life care. What are the local resources for the patient? What is a Living Will? That sort of thing. A member of AARP wrote up a fine summary of page 425 in terms of the specifics. Here's a link to the bill itself. And here's a "truth-o-meter" evaluation of the claim that gives a "pants on fire" conclusion.

Page 425 is not about euthansia. It is about making sure that people actually get accurate information and are not kept from that information based solely on an inability to pay for the counseling session(s). So this is bad? Huh. Oh, and the sessions themselves are not mandatory. What is mandatory is that Medicare pay for them at least once every five years and more often if the patient becomes very ill and needs further information.

When poking around on the Internet about this, I found a facebook entry promoting the scare tactic along with comments from an individual who explained that the claim was baloney. (In that case, the claim was that people will be instructed on assisted suicide.) Here's a link to that dialogue. After pointing out that the word "suicide" is nowhere in the bill, the commenter went on to say, "It's fine to debate reform but you really shouldn't misrepresent the plain language of the bill."

I'm with the commenter. How frustrating, when people are trying to have a legitimate debate, to have to fight off lunacy as well. It's a waste of time and energy.

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