Commentary: 'Death panels' hoax shouldn't block a sensible reform provision

"A lie can travel around the world while the truth is just putting on its shoes."

The controversy over the so-called "death panels" is proof of the enduring nature of Mark Twain's famous observation.

In truth, there are no "death panels" in the proposed legislation to overhaul the healthcare system. HR 3200, the main proposal in the U.S. House, makes periodic, voluntary end-of-life discussions with your doctor a covered expense under Medicare (Sec. 1233). In truth, Republicans supported such discussions in Medicare proposals when George W. Bush was president.

That's it. No euthanasia, no arbitrary decisions about who should live or die, no mandatory anything. But that hasn't stopped opponents of healthcare reform like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin from twisting this sensible provision into something that it isn't with the aim of stopping reform in its tracks.

Over in the Senate, some members who should know better — like GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa — have dumped the provision from their version of the bill. Sen. Grassley is one of six lawmakers negotiating a Senate bill. His unwillingness to debunk the myth about "death panels" suggests he is not really interested in a bipartisan reform effort.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.