death panelers' real fear: you in control of your life

Betsy McCaughey is widely regarded as the person responsible for starting the "death panel" rumors. In this press release, she disputes a recent profile piece the New York Times did about her.

Here's what's interesting: her objection to doctors being rated on whether they help patients articulate their own wishes, and whether those wishes are adhered to:

Doctors' quality ratings will be determined in part by the percentage of the doctor's patients who create a living will and the percentage who adhere to it. (And quality ratings affect a doctor's Medicare reimbursement)

The "adhere to" part is especially dangerous. Some people say "they'd rather die than be on a ventilator, but when the time comes, they choose to live. Doctors will incur penalties when families do not adhere to end of life written plans. - a horrible conflict of interest. As a patient advocate, I see these difficult situations and know that government should not be
involved.

Let's be clear: if you can decide for yourself whether to die or to remain on a ventilator, your living will is not in effect.

But putting that nonsensical part aside, if you're in a condition where you can't decide, and you've left a living will or advance directive, presumably you want that to be followed! (Else, why did you make it?) Whether it says "pull the plug" or "hook me up to every machine you've got," you want your doctor to follow your directions.

It's not your family's choice, it's your choice. If a doctor disregards a patient's wishes, of course they ought to be down-rated!

It seems what McCaughey and her ilk object to is you being able to make your own decisions about end-of-life care. That's what this is about: these folks want to give you the same treatment they gave Terri Schiavo.

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