UPDATED Specter backs down from 'death panel' barb at Grassley

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) on Friday afternoon backed down from comments he made on Twitter accusing Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) of spreading "myths" about "death panels."

The fifth-term Democrat took to Twitter again:
Senator Grassley is not available on the phone today, but I will talk to him as soon as possible to clarify his position on living wills.

I believe it is appropriate to council people on their choices, but no one should tell anyone else

what to do about health care near the end of their lives.

Specter seems to have moderated his comments on the end-of-life provisions included in some versions of healthcare reform legislation.

Earlier on Friday, Specter accused Grassley of spreading fear that the government would create a "death panel" if health reform passed, an assertion former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) first made this week.

Grassley never used the phrase himself, but said yesterday that such decisions 'ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma."

After reading Specter's remarks, Grassley tweeted:
Specter got it all wrong that I ever used words "death boards". Even liberal press never accused me of that. So change ur last Tweet Arlen

The Senate Finance Committee, of which Grassley is ranking member, removed an end-of-life clause from the committee's version of the bill that provided incentives for doctors to consult with patients on care in case of a terminal illness or other life-threatening ailment.

The Iowa Republican said the committee removed the provision "because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly."

Cross-posted to the Twitter Room

UPDATED [5:07pm]: Specter tweets he will try to persuade Grassley to keep end-of-life clause in the Finance Committe bill:
I will try to persuade Senator Grassley that the availability of counseling is appropriate and should be included in health care reform.

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