Saturday, August 01, 2009

"Right wing" radio turns spin on proposals for Medicare "end of life" counseling

Ceci Connolly has a front page story in the Washington Post, Aug. 1, about the spin some conservative radio talk show hosts put on the Obama proposal to have Medicare provide “end of life counseling.” The title is “Talk radio campaign frightening seniors: provision for end-of-life counseling is described by Right as ‘death care’”. The link is here.

The AARP says it has received calls from seniors who have been convinced by conservative pundits that they must “choose how they want to die.” Its "end of life" page is here.

About one third of Americans have living wills or advanced medical directives, but few people understand what they want, the article and mainstream Democratic proponents say.

Conservatives seem to be playing on a demographic change: people living longer because of advances, more likely to have some period of disability (including Alzheimers) than in the past, in a society where middle class extended families are smaller and disbursed. The end of life issue (spurned by the Terry Schiavo case) is lumped with abortion by the so-called “right to life” lobby, but there are moral differences. Pregnancy is usually the result of chosen behavior by the woman (and father, of course). But extension of life incurs costs that must be borne by society collectively or by other individual family members individually. The end-of-life issue comports with the “empty cradle” argument made by Phillip Longman and others, who believe that we need a new “social contract” which encourages people to have more children and earlier, and which makes family loyalty (as it used to be) more expected, and particularly which makes personal involvement with intergenerational care an expectation from everyone, regardless of whether they have their own children.

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