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Originally published Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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Editorial

Health-care reform: Distortions doom end-of-life counseling

End-of-life counseling that was part of health-care reform is being removed from the plan. It has to be that way because too few Americans bothered to understand what was actually being proposed. Optional end-of-life consultations would have benefited a lot of patients and their families.

IN the end, sensible end-of-life counseling proposals in health-care reform had to be dropped, because too few Americans bothered to understand what was being proposed.

From a practical standpoint, consultations must be removed from the legislation to save more-pressing elements of reform. Willful distortions of optional end-of-life counseling spiraled out of control. This is not a proud moment in American politics.

Financing beneficiaries' optional consultations about a range of end-of-life care is a good idea. Families need it. Patients benefit.

But a well-orchestrated rumor campaign ensured this element of the plan could not survive. It became too much of distraction.

The idea that the government would stage death panels cutting care to critically ill patients is an absurdity, perpetuated by conservative publications and a woman, Betsey McCaughey, whose claim to fame is trashing Former President Clinton's health-care reform.

Sarah Palin joined the frenzy, proving how dangerous she would have been as vice president.

Ironically, the idea for such consultations supposedly came from Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican. Doctors, patients and families will have to wait for a saner moment in the debate to include this important care.

Sometimes, hysteria wins. What a shame for those who may not have access to information that would aid them in making excruciatingly painful decisions.

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