Since Sarah Palin famously labeled Obama's end-of-life policy proposals "death panels" in 2009 (dubbed the "Lie of the Year" by Politifact), legislators have treaded even more carefully when dealing with the end-of-life debate. The less specific that politicians' ideas are, the safer they generally will be from scorn from the left or right. It seems the American public, however, is hoping for more specificity.
A new National Journal/Regence Foundation survey finds that 93 percent of Americans tthink end-of-life treatment "should be top priority for the U.S. health care system," but only 33 percent of those surveyed trusted elected officials or political candidates for "accurate information" on end-of-life decisions. 23 percent of those surveyed still believed the death panel falsehood that "the health care law allows the government to make end of life decisions for seniors." And "less than half, 40 percent, rightly said the law does not include 'death panels,'" notes National Journal.
Unfortunately, Americans' likelihood of getting an "informed public discussion of the issue" doesn't seem high. Take Indiana Governor Mitch Daniel's recent end-of-life remarks as Example A.
In February, Daniels told reporters during a health care discussion that "we cannot, no one can, do absolutely everything that modern technology makes possible for absolutely everyone 'til absolutely the very last day, the very last resort." Daniels point, notes The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler, was that it's nearly impossible to give Americans the type of palliative care they desire even if the government decided it wanted to. But instead of making a suggestion about what the government should do, Meckler observes, the governor "would not say what policies he would endorse, other than to say he would prefer that families make the decisions, rather than the government."