If Medicare Wants to Kill Grandma, Why Hasn't It Done So For 44 Years?

09/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The latest about health care reform is that it's going to kill your grandma. At least that's what Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Charles Grassley and a whole bunch of right wing broadcasters and bloggers are telling us. And a lot of people - including a lot of older people - believe them. Incredibly.

I say incredibly because these older folks, many of them, have been on Medicare for years (40 million Americans are Medicare recipients) and never seen a shred of evidence that Medicare had any desire, intention or impact on shortening their lives.

I, for example, have been on Medicare for 11 years and my wife for seven.
We know all about Medicare. It's paid tens of thousands of dollars in cancer radiation treatments and back surgery for me; and additional tens of thousands for hip and knee replacements for my wife. Never once have either of us been denied care by Medicare, nor has any government bureaucrat even raised a single question or otherwise tried to get between either of us and our doctors.

I'm sure there are some exceptions, for example I wouldn't expect Medicare to pay Elmer Gantry for patent medicines or successors to the late Oral Roberts for the laying on of hands, but I've never heard any one of the dozens of people I know who are on Medicare complain about any treatment that wasn't covered for the legally mandated 80 per cent of Medicare's cost.

Most of all, I've never heard of anyone suggesting euthanasia for grandma, grandpa - or me (I'm now 76 and getting progressively more expensive to insure). So, if in all these years, Medicare hasn't made a single effort to kill me off - or any other Medicare recipient I know for that matter, no matter how expensive it's been to keep any one of us alive - why should anyone believe that health care reform should cause Medicare to start going around and urging death on us seniors?

No one should. These idiotic charges are false and make no sense. Unless you're a Republican and want to deny Obama the credit for spreading health insurance to almost everyone in this benighted country, or an insurance company executive who can't stand the idea of cutting profits by insuring people with pre-existing conditions.

The argument for euthanasia is just plain stupid; besides it's not based on a shred of evidence from a government program that's provided health care for seniors since 1965. Unfortunately, the phony fuss may well result in getting rid of those voluntary counseling sessions that might make it more likely for sensible seniors to better control a lot of end of life decisions, like how much and what kind of treatment and care they want - and don't want - when they're terminally ill. So we'll all end up paying the price for having so many Republicans and other stupid people in this country - and so many powerful insurance lobbyists.