Commentary: Lies can't diminish need for health care reform

We're not sure which is the more discouraging thought: that some believe Congress has hidden "death panels" in a health reform bill — or that they know it hasn't but are still insisting it has.

It's definitely discouraging that Sarah Palin — who conceivably could have been vice president today but for last fall's economic crisis — was speaking from either ignorance or dishonesty last week when she ignited the whole controversy.

This death panel business deserves to quickly fade from cable TV's nightly shoutfests. Not only is there no such provision in the House legislation, as Palin and others have charged, but the Senate has jettisoned the language that's been wildly misconstrued as an invitation to euthanize the elderly and disabled.

For the record, the idea was to encourage and fund end-of-life counseling for the terminally ill. Such consultations — which already happen all the time, everywhere — can help the dying and their families make deliberate decisions about palliative vs. aggressive care and other issues that arise when death approaches. Health care policy ought to be encouraging these decisions.

The death panel fabrication is merely the worst of the distortions — many originating with fire-breathing, Obama-loathing conservatives — that have plagued what ought to be a thoughtful, factual conversation about health insurance in America.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.