Saturday, November 14, 2009

RNC health insurance promotes end-of-life counseling (otherwise known as "death panels")

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee was embarrassed when Politico reported that the party had been providing its employees with insurance that covered abortion services. After all the hubbub that the RNC and Republican lawmakers had made over the public option covering such services, it seemed quite hypocritical that the GOP would pay for abortion through its insurance plan.

So the RNC opted out of that portion of the plan so that they would no longer be funding abortions (sort of). But later this week, another startling discovery was made about the RNC's health insurance provider.

It covers end-of-life counseling services. But by Sarah Palin and TEA Party protesters alike, those services are better known as "death panels."

Of course, end-of-life counseling is not anything remotely close to what a death panel would be. Within the health care bill passed by the House, as well as the RNC's insurance plan, there is no one asking elderly patients to define what their life is worth so that they can receive coverage.

End-of-life counseling is simply asking the patient, "What options would you like to take in the following scenarios?" It can range from wanting to go into hospice care to being a "do not resuscitate" patient. But all options, of course, are up to the patient (with the doctor's advice), and never allows a panel to decide anything for someone.

But that didn't stop Republican lawmakers -- RNC Chair Michael Steele included -- from calling these counseling sessions death panels. The term, meant to instill fear in people about the Democratic Party's health care plan, worked to a large extent, causing thousands to protest and disrupt town hall meetings across the country.

But how many of those same protesters will be upset with the RNC's insurance plan? And will the RNC opt out of this portion of their health care plan as well? Probably not.

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