Update: The posting below and some 1,200+ user comments following it refer to an outdated version of the House health care bill as proposed in July 2009. For the full text of the legislation actually passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 (H.R. 3590), click here. For a non-partisan evaluation of many of the claims and counter-claims about what the new law will actually do, see FactCheck.org.
1. Text of hysterical rumor:
On Page 425 of Obama's health care bill, the Federal Government will require EVERYONE who is on Social Security to undergo a counseling session every 5 years with the objective being that they will explain to them just how to end their own life earlier. Yes... They are going to push SUICIDE to cut Medicare spending!!! And no, I am NOT KIDDING YOU! So those of you who voted for Obama have now put yourself and your own parents in dire straights... Congratulations!
2. Text of Section 1233 (pp. 425-430) of the actual health care reform bill (2009 version of House Bill 3200), which, as far as I can tell after wading through several pages of legalese, merely amends Title 18 of the Social Security Act to stipulate that Medicare will pay for -- not mandate -- "advance care planning consultations" between individuals and physicians every five years, during which a spectrum of end-of-life options can be explained and discussed so said individuals can knowledgeably choose their own treatment preferences in advance:
Page 424, Line 15:
SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION.
(1) IN GENERAL.--Section 1861 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x) is amended--
(A) in subsection (s)(2)--
(i) by striking "and" at the end of subparagraph (DD);
(ii) by adding "and" at the end of subparagraph (EE); and
(iii) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
"(FF) advance care planning consultation (as defined in subsection (hhh)(1));"; and
(B) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
"Advance Care Planning Consultation
"(hhh)(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term 'advance care planning consultation' means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such consultation shall include the following:
"(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.
"(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.
"(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.
"(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline,
the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965).
"(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.
"(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders, which shall include--
"(I) the reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual's family and the reasons why such an order should be updated periodically as the health of the individual changes;
"(II) the information needed for an individual or legal surrogate to make informed decisions regarding the completion of such an order; and
"(III) the identification of resources that an individual may use to determine the requirements of the State in which such individual resides so that the treatment wishes of that individual will be carried out if the individual is
unable to communicate those wishes, including requirements regarding the designation of a surrogate decisionmaker (also known as a healthcare proxy).
"(ii) The Secretary shall limit the requirement for explanations under clause (i) to consultations furnished in a State--
"(I) in which all legal barriers have been addressed for enabling orders for life sustaining treatment to constitute a set of medical orders respected across all care settings; and
"(II) that has in effect a program for orders for life sustaining treatment described in clause (iii).
"(iii) A program for orders for life sustaining treatment for a States described in this clause is a program that--
"(I) ensures such orders are standardized and uniquely identifiable throughout the State;
(II) distributes or makes accessible such orders to physicians and other health professionals that (acting within the scope of the professional's authority under State law) may sign orders for life sustaining treatment;
"(III) provides training for health care professionals across the continuum of care about the goals and use of orders for life sustaining treatment; and
"(IV) is guided by a coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from emergency medical services, emergency department physcians or nurses, state long-term care association, state medical association, state surveyors, agency responsible for senior services, state department of health, state hospital association, home health association, state bar association, and state hospice association.
"(2) A practitioner described in this paragraph is--
"(A) a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)); and
"(B) a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant who has the authority under State law to sign orders for life sustaining treatments.
"(3)(A) An initial preventive physical examination under subsection (WW), including any related discussion during such examination, shall not be considered an advance care planning consultation for purposes of applying the 5-year limitation under paragraph (1).
"(B) An advance care planning consultation with respect to an individual may be conducted more frequently than provided under paragraph (1) if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual, including diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, life-limiting disease, a life-threatening or terminal diagnosis or life-threatening injury, or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility (as defined by the Secretary), or a hospice program.
"(4) A consultation under this subsection may include the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining treatment or a similar order.
"(5)(A) For purposes of this section, the term 'order regarding life sustaining treatment' means, with respect to an individual, an actionable medical order relating to the treatment of that individual that--
"(i) is signed and dated by a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)) or another health care professional (as specified by the Secretary and who is acting within the scope of the professional's authority under State law in signing such an order, including a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) and is in a form that permits it to stay with the individual and be followed by health care professionals and providers across the continuum of care;
"(ii) effectively communicates the individual's preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual;
"(iii) is uniquely identifiable and standardized within a given locality, region, or State (as identified by the Secretary); and
"(iv) may incorporate any advance directive (as defined in section 1866(f)(3)) if executed by the individual.
"(B) The level of treatment indicated under subparagraph (A)(ii) may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions. Such indicated levels of treatment may include indications respecting, among other items--
"(i) the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulse less, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems;
"(ii) the individual's desire regarding transfer to a hospital or remaining at the current care setting;
"(iii) the use of antibiotics; and
"(iv) the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration."
Poll: Does it seem plausible to you that this health care plan would push people to undergo euthanasia?
• Full text of the version of the health care bill currently under discussion (H.R. 3200)
• Audio of health care bill opponent Betsy McCaughey misrepresenting the contents of page 425 of the health care bill on Fred Thompson's radio talk show
• Impartial analysis of page 425 of the health care bill by St. Petersburg Times reporters on Politifact.com