Terminal Case

End of life counseling is back as a political issue after the president decided to add it to Obamacare by executive fiat. If you remember, this was one of the things that led to Sarah Palin’s infamous “death panel” fiction that caused such a furor over the summer. What is proposed, in the real world, is that insurance companies pay for helping terminally ill patients and their families make appropriate decisions for their medical care.┬áThat this is an issue at all is a sign of how toxic our politics have become. I’ve been involved in those decisions for two of my step-parents and for my father, and I remain forever grateful for the information that helped my family make the difficult decisions about what course the remaining days of our parents’ lives should take. Without the expert advice of doctors and hospice care nurses, I can only imagine what a struggle their last days might have been. To blindly oppose allowing other families to make those choices, solely for political gain, is worse than callous–it’s positively evil.

2 thoughts on “Terminal Case”

  1. Like most issues in the media causing a fuss, they never even touch on the real problem. End of life care counseling is important because many families without it (and without a healthcare proxy who has been informed of the wishes of the patient) often tend to continue intensive care treatment of relatives without even considering the possibility of the suffering caused by ineffective treatment, and the huge expense and extremely likely failure of continued treatment. Counseling was never about taking away choices, the most important thing it does is explain all of them (even doing nothing) and coming up with better decisions than the default “do everything to keep them alive”.

    Frontline recently covered this issue very well. The entire thing is available online at

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