“Only Nixon Could Go to China” by Kristian Murphy

Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012 07:24

About Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy (120 Posts)

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, who practices in one of the largest emergency departments in the United States at Huntsville Hospital. Through her writing and speaking, she is devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Media Page

Medicare End-of-Life Care Planning has been another victim of the partisan hostility that permeates Washington D.C. During the 2009 Affordable Care Act / “Obamacare” debacle, the “death panel” card was somewhat successfully played by those seeking to derail the massive expansion of government intervention, regulation, and delivery of health care. Conservatives were mortified by the proposed expansion of Medicaid to tens of millions of additional recipients. Democrats felt they were taking moral steps further down the “Medicare for All” path.

The Obama Administration and the Democrat Congressional leaders, seeking to provide medical care/insurance to almost all American’s, ramrodded the legislation through the House and Senate, with late-night sessions and contorting legislative rules of the Congress to do so. On the other hand, the GOP vilified and demagogued aspects of the proposed legislation while theorizing it was the end of the country as we know it. (Neglecting to mention that the country has already set up a system, that taxes ALL wage earners and the self-employed, to pay for a medical system which covers everyone 65 and over. When you throw in Federal workers and the military, it seems that Uncle Sam already provides medical care/insurance to most of us.)

In the end, the ACA/Obamacare “knife fight” results gave the Democrats a “pyric victory” and directly lead to the “shellacking” they received during the 2010 congressional elections, which handed the House to the GOP.

At the very end of 2010, the Administration attempted to modify the Medicare regulations to INCLUDE end-of-life care planning for all recipients. This was “discovered” and the Right once again unfurled the “death panel” banner and the proposal was quickly withdrawn within just a few days (picture the scene from the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where King Arthur and his knights run away from the castle occupied by the French, who are throwing chickens, geese and other barnyard animals at them.)

So where is End-of-Life Care Planning now? In regards to the Federal government, NOWHERE!

As Ben Franklin said, “The only thing certain is death and taxes.” Well the Federal government has the tax issue well covered………So what about death? Even though the Medicare budget is over $500,000,000,000 AND 30+% of that money is spent on “last year of life care,” the Administration, Congress, and Medicare officials have spent little time addressing ANY aspect of end-of-life care planning. If death is so certain AND SO EXPENSIVE, then why are the President, both parties in Congress, and the officials in charge of the Medicare/Medicaid programs not doing ANYTHING?

I’m guessing this has everything to do with the bogus “death panel” demagoguery

For those of us who are very involved with end-of-life care planning, either directly or on the periphery of the issue, it is up to us to generate the pressure to get the D.C. leadership, OF BOTH PARTIES, to address an issue that effects EVERY AMERICAN EVENTUALLY!

There is an old saying that goes back to the 1970’s and it involves a very conservative President of the US and a very communist country. I don’t know who first said “Only Nixon could go to China,” but it’s true. As applied to the end-of-life care planning / “death panel” issue, only Conservatives are going to be able to pass the appropriate Federal legislation, so that Medicare will/can sponsor discussions between Medicare patients and THEIR DOCTORS.

There is no arguing that the most appropriate, effective, and trusted source of information on options for treatment and care, at the end of life, are your doctors.

Our beloved elderly Americans, many of whom have served in the military during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, deserve the BEST CARE POSSIBLE at the end of their lives. This country has told these veterans that it was “Ok to die for their country,” but now we should make sure that “It’s OK to die” at the end of their natural lives and that their deaths can be peaceful, relatively pain-free, and should take place where it’s familiar, friendly, and surrounded by their loved ones. This is most likely to occur when end-of-life care planning has been discussed IN ADVANCE.

It is up to us, to press those in power, particularly conservatives, to realistically and honestly address the obvious and overdue issue of making the end-of-life for ALL Americans, a positive, planned out process. Conservative “believers” in end-of-life care planning should be leading this process, because remember—”only Nixon can go to China!”

Kristian Murphy  4/18/2012


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