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Medicare Misinformation Remains Issue in Reform Debate

As the health care reform debates continues, some seniors are concerned over potential changes to Medicare payments.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, our look at the health care reform disputes over potential changes in Medicare payments. NewsHour health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser begins.

  • PROTESTOR:

    How dare you! How dare you!

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    It sparked outbursts at town hall meetings.

  • PROTESTOR:

    They're going to give us classes on euthanasia.

  • PROTESTOR:

    Adolf Hitler issued 6 million end-of-life orders.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, "This Week" Anchor: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    And impassionate debates on Sunday morning talk shows.

    NEWT GINGRICH, former speaker of the house: Communal standards historically is a very dangerous concept.

  • GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:

    It's not in the bill.

  • NEWT GINGRICH:

    You're asking us to trust turning power over to the government when there clearly are people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    What's fueling the fire: a provision in the 1,200-page House health care reform bill that would allow seniors to seek what lawmakers call advance care planning consultation that provides end-of-life services, including palliative care and hospice. The counseling with a physician would be optional, and Medicare would pay for it once every five years.

    Critics of the Democrats' health care reform bills have seized on this on YouTube, e-mail chains, and blogs online.

    Alaska's former Republican governor, Sarah Palin, posted this entry on her Facebook page Friday: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their level of productivity in society, whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

    Today, Palin urged people to engage in civil discourse when attending town hall meetings sponsored by Democratic members of the House who are home on recess. Those members have found many seniors across the country are confused and scared.

    President Obama fielded this question from a caller at a town hall meeting at the AARP last week.

  • CALLER:

    I have heard lots of rumors going around about this new plan. I have been told there is a clause in there that everyone that's Medicare age will be visited and told to decide how they wish to die. This bothers me greatly, and I'd like for you to promise me that this is not in this bill.

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