Palin repeats death-panel charge

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) used Facebook to re-enter the healthcare debate Wednesday night, repeating her charge that the legislation could result in patients not receiving end-of-life care.

Citing a portion of the House bill that authorizes (but does not require) end-of-life consultations, Palin argued that such advice could result in fewer healthcare services for the elderly.

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"These consultations are authorized whenever a Medicare recipient’s health changes significantly or when they enter a nursing home, and they are part of a bill whose stated purpose is 'to reduce the growth in health care spending,'" Palin wrote on her Facebook page. "Is it any wonder that senior citizens might view such consultations as attempts to convince them to help reduce health care costs by accepting minimal end-of-life care?"

Palin has been widely criticized for her claim last week that legislation would authorize "death panels" that would decide which patients should receive care.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who has crafted an end-of-life amendment to one of the Senate’s healthcare bills, called Palin's claim "nuts."

And fellow Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R) said she was "offended" by the death panel comments and said they were intended to "gin up fear."

At a town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., this week President Barack Obama said the purpose of the end-of-life consultations was simply "to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready on their own terms."

Palin shot back at Obama for making light of her concerns.

"With all due respect, it’s misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients," Palin wrote. "The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context."

While the end-of-life consultations in the House legislation are voluntary, Palin argued that doctors have an incentive to initiate such conversations since they would be paid for the session.

Finally, the former Alaska governor cited a journal article published by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of the White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and an adviser to the president in his own right.

In that article, Emanuel discusses various theories about how to approach the allocation of healthcare resources. Under one of those frameworks, which he does not explicitly endorse, "services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed."

"President Obama can try to gloss over the effects of government authorized end-of-life consultations, but the views of one of his top health care advisors are clear enough," Palin wrote.