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Obamacare Will Enable Government to Ration Health Care

The Associated Press’s Calvin Woodward published a FACT CHECK: Health overhaul myths taking root August 20th. In it he writes:

THE POLL: 45 percent said it’s likely the government will decide when to stop care for the elderly; 50 percent said it’s not likely.

THE FACTS: Nothing being debated in Washington would give the government such authority. Critics have twisted a provision in a House bill that would direct Medicare to pay for counseling sessions about end-of-life care, living wills, hospices and the like if a patient wants such consultations with a doctor. They have said, incorrectly, that the elderly would be required to have these sessions.

Woodward is correct that Section 1233 of the House bill does not require elderly to have end of life counseling sessions. But that is hardly the only part of President Obama’s health plan that raises concerns about government rationing of health care.

Both the House and Senate bills call for an increased role for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) to determine which medical procedures are most effective at treating specific ailments. Although this provision is based on perfectly sound policy, many Americans are concerned that federal officials could use CER to make treatment, coverage, or payment decisions. Three Senators offered amendments that would have prohibited the use of CER to mandate coverage, deny care, or ration. CER, if used as a rationing tool, would obviously interfere with the traditional doctor-patient relationship. All three amendments failed on straight party-line votes.