Reversing itself again, the Obama administration has dropped an end-of-life planning provision from new Medicare regulations. It’s difficult to make sense of what the Obama administration is thinking here. It should have been assumed that the administration’s decision to include end-of-life care planning in new Medicare regulations would revive the “death panel” charge, which already forced Democrats to drop a similar provision from an earlier version of the health care legislation. If the administration is so intent on addressing the end-of-life planning issue, they should have been prepared to stand by their decision on policy grounds. If they weren’t prepared to do that, it was completely puzzling to revive the issue. Raising the issue again provided fodder to conservatives, while backing down yet again is another example to liberals of an administration unwilling to fight Republicans. Either the administration didn’t anticipate this reaction, or there was a lack of communication within the administration. Whichever the case, the handling of this issue was inept.
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