This Isn't Sarah Palin's Death Panel

Scripture teaches us:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die... (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a NRSV)

For the birth of a child, we tend to plan out every moment (when we can afford to do so). But too often we are in denial where death is concerned. Rather than face the reality that our lives will come to an end we leave unanswered questions about how we want to face our final moments. Living wills are more the practice but physicians need to be better equipped and encouraged to engage their patients in meaningful conversations about end of life care.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has over recent years advanced the Personalize Your Care Act. The aim of the legislation is "to support advance care planning by providing Medicare and Medicaid coverage for voluntary consultations about advance care planning every 5 years or in the event of a change in health status."

This is what some GOP leaders -- first Sarah Palin and now Reince Priebus -- have called the "Death Panels" of Obamacare. Nothing could be further from the truth.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) is an outspoken conservative and a doctor by training but supports Blumenauer's legislation.

"Roe knows a lot of that death panel rhetoric came from within his own party -- and as much as he dislikes Obamacare, he finds this vein of attack disturbing. The political discussion is so far removed from what people -- Democrats and Republicans, lay people and doctors -- experience in their own families, he says. He's had hard conversations and hard choices himself, he says, both with his own family and as a physician," recently reported Politico.

Those that use this legislation to scare people about Obamacare actually end up hurting those facing the end of their lives. That is a sick form of politics certainly in need of a cure.

The Personalize Your Care Act is legislation the faith community should strongly support. As a minister, I've been in too many ICUs where family members are unclear how their loved one would want to be treated as a life comes to an end. Clergy should encourage these types of conversations as well, and hold forums about end of life care in houses of worship. Still, nothing short of a conversation between a doctor and patient will be binding. People should leave this life with the same sense of love, care and compassion as they hopefully found on entering it.