In a foretaste of outrages to come, the Obama administration managed to sneak out a federal regulation paying doctors to provide “end of life counseling” to those covered by ObamaCare. The Medicare rule, which Congress never voted on, may encourage thousands to forego lifesaving treatment. This move is a voluntary precursor to the inevitable rationing engendered by socialized medicine. Many conservative media outlets have objected to the pro-death aspects of this decision. However, they have ignored a vital aspect of this story: the way he implemented the policy. This federal regulation inaugurates Obama’s two-year strategy to rule by executive order. The New York Times reports:
When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.
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Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.
Although the NYT just discovered this, Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com reported the regulation nearly a month ago. (We covered it at the time.) For once, the Times included some salient facts along with its whitewash of the administration’s activities.
This program will be overseen by the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dr. Donald Berwick, a fanatical believer in limiting (read: denying) care. The paper quotes Berwick as saying, “Using unwanted procedures in terminal illness is a form of assault. In economic terms, it is waste.” Berwick added advanced directives were one of “several techniques” that led “to both lower cost and more humane care.” There is no question they lead to lower costs, in addition to providing an economic stimulus to tombstone carvers, morticians, and cemetery plot salesmen.
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The Times reports the regulation was pushed by two Congressional Democrats: Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV of West Virginia. This backing unintentionally reveals the measure’s greater significance: The liberals could not ram a death panels provision through even the Democratic-controlled 111th Congress, so Obama is imposing it with the stroke of a pen, without a single vote. The New York Times admits this is the wave of the future:
While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.
This author first exposed Obama’s plan to rule by executive order, in October. The following month, the Center for American Progress released a lengthy report compiled by Sarah Rosen Wartell calling for the president to implement a “progressive” agenda by fiat over the next two years. In its foreword, CAP president and CEO John Podesta called on Obama to rule through:
• Executive orders
• Agency management
• Convening and creating public-private partnerships
• Commanding the armed forces
Just last week, the inside-the-Beltway Bible Politico featured an article by John F. Harris and James Hohmann which concluded, “Republican gains in Congress make it essential for [Obama] to use new avenues of power,” including regulations and executive orders.
The Left is irresistibly drawn to collecting as much unbridled power as possible, because its agenda is so unpopular it could never receive sufficient popular support to pass an election. Since the November election, Obama, Reid, and company have followed the authoritarian path I predicted. I wrote in November, “Look for an aggressive agenda in the lame duck session of Congress, focused especially on passing the DREAM Act and repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” Harry Reid unleashed precisely these two measures (and passed one of them) in his lame duck power grab, cramming in a bid to pass a $1.27 trillion budget besides. Next, I wrote, “After January, Cabinet agencies will issue regulations at a faster clip.” This follows that prediction. Finally, I wrote, “Obama will rule increasingly through executive orders and appeals to the United Nations.” If this regulation means anything, it means we have not seen anything yet.
How fitting one of the first expressions of Obama’s new strategy was a measure to let people die. He seems to have the same fate planned for the U.S. Constitution.