Oregon legislator still fighting for end-of-life benefit despite controversy

Death panels. The name suggests a scene from the grim totalitarian vision put forth in 1984, or perhaps the plot from Logan's Run, where people agree freely to be killed by a certain date to maintain society's balance.

The truth, however, is that no such thing ever existed, insist some legislators. Instead, they were simply hoping to pay doctors for the time they invest counseling patients, those legislators say. Right now, many physicians avoid talking about options regarding terminal illness with patients--sometimes for sociological and personal reasons rather than financial ones--but supporters of this benefit hope that paying for such counseling will help support clinicians in providing better end-of-life care.

Despite the onslaught of negative press and rumors, at least one legislator continues to fight for such benefits. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) says that he's going to keep fighting for the end-of-life provision in the House reform bill, even though it's unlikely to pass. He says he's leaving it there, in part, because taking it out would reward critics who consciously misrepresented what it said, according a report in The Oregonian. "[The provision] was something Republicans and Democrats [could] agree will help empower senior citizens and their families," Blumenauer said.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this piece from The Oregonian