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Grassley: Government shouldn’t ‘decide when to pull the plug on grandma’
WINTERSET — Americans should be scared of provisions in a health care bill currently in the U.S. House because it will allow the government to have a say in end-of-life decisions, Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley told a crowd of more than 300 Wednesday morning.
“In the House bill, there is counseling for end of life,” Grassley said. “You have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma”
The conspiracy theory of the government deciding who lives and dies has been making the rounds of late, gaining momentum after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a message on her Facebook saying President Obama’s health care plan might kill her child who was born with Down Syndrome.
The portion of the House health care bill in question was written by Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. It would require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, which would be voluntary. Isakson told The Washington Post that it is “nuts” that anyone would look at the language of the bill and conclude it promotes euthanasia.
“It empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time rather than having the government making them for you,” he said.
In a statement released shortly after the event, Democratic state Sen. Joe Bolkom of Iowa City called on Grassley to condemn those spreading lies about health care reform, pointing out that a living will provision similar to the one discussed in the U.S. House has already been passed in Iowa by “large bipartisan majorities.”
Instead, while responding to a question about older Americans being “systematically denied health care” due to their age, Grassley fanned the flames of the rumor, telling the crowd there are many congressman who would like the government to have authority to intervene in end-of-life decisions.
“There are some people who think it is a terrible problem that grandma is laying in a bed with tubes in her… and that the government should intervene,” he said. “I think that’s a family or religious thing that needs to be dealt with.”
This isn’t the first time Grassley has used debunked rumors during the health care debate. Last week he said Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts would not receive quality care for his brain tumor under President Obama’s health care plan because the care would go to a younger person who can “contribute more to the economy.”
The town hall forum, which did not erupt in chaos like so many across the country, was the first of four Grassley will hold Wednesday. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which continues to work toward a bill to reform the country’s health care system, Grassley has been the focus of a lot attention from both supporters and opponents of reform.
The gathering drew the attention of national media, with CNN and Fox News broadcasting portions of the event live.