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Grassley Clarifies 'Death Panel' Position

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 09/16/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:50 PM ET

Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has attempted to clarify his comments on end-of-life care meaning the government could "pull the plug on grandma." He says he never used the phrase "death panel," but that there is the "possibility of unintended consequences" from the health care bill.

His full statement:

"I've said for a long time and repeated last week that we all ought to consider how we want to be treated if we are struck by an incapacitating illness, and that advanced care planning is a good thing to do. As far as legislation goes, it's not the case that provisions in the Pelosi health care reform bill this year are just like provisions Congress passed in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. I've never called the Pelosi provisions a 'death panel.' The issue is whether end-of-life provisions should be part of legislation that's about controlling health care spending, and which also creates a government-run health care program, as the Pelosi bill does. Doing so escalates concerns about the rationing of health care, since government-run plans in other countries ration to control spending. Putting end-of-life consultations alongside cost containment and government-run health care causes legitimate concern. This context and the details of this year's proposal are different than the 2003 legislation, which covers advice from specialized physicians outside of any larger effort to control spending on health care. It's not fair to Americans who are asking questions to gloss over those facts and, in fact, end-of-life provisions haven't been part of ongoing Senate Finance Committee discussions as a result of those realities and the possibility of unintended consequences. On this subject and others, it's important that the debate is fair-minded and based on an accurate representation of the issues involved."

But Greg Sargent points out that Grassley's spokesperson walked back the whole claim in a comment to the Washington Post.

Grassley says he opposes that counseling as written in the House version of the bill, but a spokesman said the senator does not think the House provision would in fact give the government such authority in deciding when and how people die. The House bill allows patients to decide for themselves if they would like such counseling.

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