Death Panels and Health Reform

I am an elder law attorney. In my practice, I have represented family members who needed to make serious decisions about the care of their loved ones regarding respirators, pain medications and artificial life support. The difficulty facing family members in theses situations is terrible to watch.

And it all could have been avoided if a living will had been in place. A living will lets your family know what your wishes are for your care when you are no longer in a position to communicate those decisions yourself.

The proposed health care plan is not suggesting that a person's continued existence is decided by a panel of government workers. It is only allowing a patient to talk to a doctor to make decisions regarding their care that they need to communicate to their families.

I understand such discussions are often difficult for people to face. That's OK. I understand that the prospect of being forced to have such a discussion is also difficult to think about. That's OK, too. But this health care plan is not forcing anyone to have that discussion, nor is it making any of those decisions for you. It is only paying for it if you do want to have a living will.

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