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Grassley repeats euthanasia claim
PANORA — Promising not to sell out his core values in crafting health care reform legislation, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) brandished his conservative credentials at a town hall forum Wednesday afternoon.
After explaining the legislative process and his own efforts as a key Republican negotiator on health care reform, the discussion ultimately returned to the false claim, which Grassley also made earlier in the day, that a provision in a House health care bill could lead to forced euthanasia of the nation’s elderly population.
The gathering, the third of the senator’s day, began with Grassley explaining the reasons why it is important for him to be a “finger in the dike” of health care reform, saying without the work of the Senate Finance Committee, a much more partisan bill would have already been passed by the Senate.
“It’s better to be in the room and know what’s going on than outside the room,” Grassley told the crowd of more than 300.
But Grassley quickly returned to the popular myth he discussed earlier in the day during a similar town hall meeting in Winterset — that a Democratic health care bill will allow the federal government the power to “pull the plug on grandma.”
Despite the fact that the idea has been thoroughly debunked by political analysts, policy experts, and even a Republican senator, Grassley maintained that the current proposals moving through congress leave the door open to government-mandated euthanasia.
The proposal to which Grassley referred would merely require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions for anyone who would like it. It would also be completely voluntary. In Iowa, a similar law is already on the books, and Grassley’s grandson, state Rep. Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford), voted for it in 2008.
President Barack Obama pointed out at a town hall yesterday that the provision in question would allow Medicare to pay doctors to counsel patients about end-of-life care issues and would not, as he put it, “pull the plug on grandma because we decided that it’s too expensive to let her live anymore.”
Regardless, Grassley said the fear still exists that health care will have to be rationed, and that older Americans will get the short end of the stick.
“When you couple this with all the other fears that people have, and you have what they do in England, then you get the idea that someone is going to decide grandma’s lived too long,” he said.
Grassley is adamantly opposed to any government involvement in end-of-life planning, even if it is simply to provide money making it possible, because those decisions should instead be made in church.
“I think the best thing to do if you want to get people to think about end of life, number one Jesus Christ is the way to start,” he said. “But after that, in the physical life as opposed to your eternal life, it ought to be done within the family and considered a religious and ethical issue and not something that politicians deal with.”
Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley slammed Grassley earlier in the day for demeaning seniors who want the choice of consulting with their doctor about important end-of-life health care decisions.
“Now is the time for a rational discussion of health care concerns, not a time to spread fear among seniors,” Braley said.
Overall, Grassley gave plenty of red meat to a crowd that was overwhelmingly conservative, seemingly an attempt to answer his critics who have threatened him with a primary challenge if he continues to work towards health care reform. At one point, he even read from a list compiled on the way to the meeting of things he’s voted against, such as the bailout of General Motors and the federal stimulus package. He also called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandating a balanced budget.
Still, it was health care that dominated the forum. Grassley vowed to continue to work with Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana to craft a “consensus health care reform bill,” but vowed that he will vigorously oppose any legislation with a public option.
“I’ve said it several times, but I will not vote for a public option,” he said.
Below is video of Grassley discussing “death panels” in Panora.