Yesterday, I wrote to protest Avik Roy's use of the "death panel" label to describe Medicare's decision to pay for end of life counseling by physicians. So here is the WSJ editorial page on this issue:
But if [the procedure for making this decision was] troubling, the substance is more than defensible. Certain quarters on the political right are following the media's imagination and blasting Dr. Berwick's decision as the tangible institution of death panels. But the rule-making is not coercive and gives seniors more autonomy, not less.
The affront is that Medicare needs to sneak around in order to offer a type of care that is routine in private insurance. If the medical experts in Congress haven't decided that some treatment or service is worthy of the fee schedule, then the program won't pay for it even if it is in the best interests of patients.
In this case, fully a fifth of the U.S. population will be over age 65 inside of two decades, and whatever the other marvels of modern medicine, the mortality rate remains 100%. Advance care planning lays out the options and allows patients, in consultation with their providers and family members, to ensure that their future treatment is consistent with their wishes and moral values should they become too sick to decide for themselves.
The emphasis on the last sentence is mine. (Thanks to Talking Points Memo.)