President Obama is accusing Republicans like Senator Grassley of dishonesty in the health care reform debate. Last week in Winterset, Grassley said he didn’t want the government involved in "end of life" decisions, so Grassley said he opposes government coverage of counseling sessions with doctors to help elderly patients write living wills.
"You know I don’t have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family," Grassley said last Wednesday. "We should not have a government program that determines you’re going to pull the plug on grandma."
The president on Saturday said there are "honest disagreements" about health care reform.
"What you can’t do — or you can but you shouldn’t do — is start saying we want to set up ‘death panels’ to pull the plug on grandma," Obama said. "I mean, come on."
Obama went on to accuse Republicans like Grassley of essentially being for Medicare coverage of end-of-life counseling sessions before they were against them.
"The notion that somehow I ran for public office or members of congress are in this so that they can go around pulling the plug on grandma? I mean, when you start making arguments like that, that’s simply dishonest," Obama said, "especially when I hear the arguments coming from members of congress from the other party who, turns out, sponsored similar provisions."
The 2003 law which created the Medicare prescription drug benefit called for coverage of doctor’s visits when patients sought advice on end-of-life decisions and Grassley was among those who voted for the bill.
"So when I have people who just a couple of years ago thought this was a good idea now getting on television suggesting that it’s a plot against grandma or to sneak euthanasia into our health care system, that feels dishonest to me," Obama said. "And we’ve got enough stuff to deal with without having these kinds of arguments.
Grassley issued a lengthy statement on Sunday. Grassley said he’s opposed to the idea now because it’s included in a bill that puts end-of-life consultations alongside cost containment, and that "escalates concerns" that there will be rationing of health care "since government-run plans in other countries ration to control spending." Grassley also said he’s never called the provisions in the House bill a "death panel."
Grassley said he supported the 2003 "end of life" provisions because Medicare — government-run health care for the nation’s elderly — covers "advice from specialized physicians outside of any larger effort to control spending on health care."
Grassley accused the president of "glossing over" that distinction.