JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to deal with this charge that's out there. Gail Wilensky, to you first, this so-called euthanasia charge, that there's something in this proposal that will have somebody from the government go visit people and say, "You must decide right now how you're going to die." What's the truth of that?
GAIL WILENSKY, Project HOPE: That is just not true. . . . This is not a right characterization.
What has been proposed is that, if someone wants to get counseling on hospice care, hospice care itself is, of course, a covered Medicare benefit. They would be able to have the physician or other practitioner paid for the counseling.The idea is for people to be able to make known how they would like to be treated in the event of a terminal illness. We have advance directives now. It was actually first raised when I was running the Medicare program. If you go in to the hospital or a nursing home, you are supposed to be asked whether you have an advance directive and, if so, have it noted. . . .
It's an interesting question of public communication how this sort of sensible analysis could find its way into the hysterical atmosphere created by the angry mobs that have disrupted town hall meetings. And of course, that is their point.