Medicare Death Panels – How Real Are They?

Just how real are the Medicare death panels and why should I be concerned? Will Medicare really pull the plug on Grandma? Is my doctor in cahoots with Medicare to end my life?

The death panels have been in the news before but then they died off . . . in a manner of speaking. In an attempt to save Medicare from financial ruin the folks in Washington decided to use Obamacare as a way of killing off the seniors before their time.

One way of achieving this goal is to disallow use of certain life-saving medications on the premise they are not cost effective. Two drugs that have come under scrutiny and may be withheld by Medicare are Avastin (used for colorectal cancer) and Provenge (prostate cancer).

Medicare alleges the cost of the drugs is too great at $5,000 (Avastin) to $8,000 (Provenge) per dose.

But hey. These are old folks who aren't going to be around much longer any way, right?

A few months back CMS head Donald (I just LOVE Britain's National Health Service) Berwick decided to pay Medicare doctors to INITIATE conversations about how much, or how little care seniors who are terminal actually need. In other words, Medicare will not only pay for your office visit but will pay an additional sum to your doctor if they encourage talk about end of life counseling.

We hadn't heard about this development until Mr. Pear's story, but evidently Medicare tried to prevent the change from becoming public knowledge. The provision is buried in thousands of Federal Register pages setting Medicare's hospital and physician price controls for 2011 and concludes that such consultations count as a form of preventative care.

Preventive care indeed!

The regulatory process isn't supposed to be a black-ops exercise, but expect many more such nontransparent improvisations under the vast powers ObamaCare handed the executive branch. In July, the White House bypassed the Senate to recess appoint Dr. Berwick, who has since testified before Congress for all of two hours, and now he promulgates by fiat a reimbursement policy that Congress explicitly rejected, all while scheming with his political patrons to duck any public scrutiny.

So the game plan is, strip the death panels from Obamacare but put them back in by decree.

And so it goes, at least until blogs and the lame stream media caught wind of what was coming down.

Barely 4 days in to January, 2011 payment for doctor initiated end of life counseling is gone, at least for a while. The patient may broach the subject if they wish, and the doctor will be paid as part of their routine "preventive care" discussion.

Somehow I don't think this, and other plots to kill off Medicare beneficiaries is completely dead yet.

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