Healthcare bill's end-of-life provisions euthanized?

The Senate Finance Committee isn't considering a controversial part of the reform bill


Alex Koppelman
August 14, 2009 1:45AM (UTC)

One of the House Democrats' more controversial healthcare reform proposals may be -- apologies in advance for the pun -- dead on arrival.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement Thursday that the Senate Finance Committee has "dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly." (He's the top Republican on the committee.)

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The provisions Grassley referred to would allow Medicare to pay for people to have completely voluntary consultations with their doctors about end-of-life issues like living wills. But they've been twisted by some people into a myth that's become fairly popular: Opponents say the provision would actually make such consultation mandatory, and would lead to euthanasia. That's a perception Grassley has actually encouraged.

There's no guarantee that the Finance Committee's move means the end-of-life provisions won't be in any final bill. But the committee has had an outsized influence on the whole process thus far, and might ultimately be instrumental in striking a deal that gets any legislation past a Republican filibuster in the Senate.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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