Latham & the “death panels”

Congressman Tom Latham (R-Ames, Iowa) held a town hall meeting in Indianola earlier this afternoon.  A man in the audience brought up the subject that's sparked such debate recently.

"I've read through the advanced care consultation section of that bill a number ot times," the man told Latham.  "I can't find anything that looks like a death panel."

Latham replied:  "Well, there isn't."

The man who had raised the subject said: "Well, thank you."

Latham continued:  "There is reimbursement for physicians where they currently are not reimbursed for consultation."

A woman in the audience said: "It's mandatory."

Latham replied: "No, it's voluntary."

The woman shot back.  The audio is not clear, but it appears she told Latham she's read a bill on-line where it was mandatory.

Latham said: "Maybe another version of the bill does, but under 3200 it's voluntary."

After the 71 minute town hall meeting concluded, Latham spoke with three reporter who were on the scene, including me.  I asked him about the death panels.

"There's no such thing in the bill," Latham replied.  "It's voluntary, there's consultation. No, it's been misrepresented. Obviously, we want to be very, very careful about intrusion. There's an incentive now for doctors to talk to their patients more about the different options that they have medically and I think that's where people get concerned, is maybe they're going to give some advice that's maybe beyond the scope of where the medicine would be."

Latham, a Republican who is the senior member of Iowa's House delegation, represents a district which has a Democratic voter registration edge of 12,000.  Latham carried each county in the district in 2008 and won reelection with about 61 percent of the vote.

You may read more about and listen to Latham's town hall meeting in Indianola here.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.