Sen. Collins: Serious or not serious?
Until last week, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson was among the most enthusiastic backers of end-of-life counseling in government health care programs like Medicare.
That was before conservatives called it a step toward euthanasia and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin likened the idea to a bureaucratic "death panel" that would decide whether sick people get to live. And even though those claims have been widely discredited, the issue remains a political weapon in the increasingly bitter health care debate.
Now, Isakson and other Republicans who eagerly backed the idea are distancing themselves from it or lying low in the face of a backlash from the right.
Isakson and other Republicans such as Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Susan Collins of Maine have co-sponsored legislation in recent years promoting the counseling, including in initial Medicare visits and through a proposed government-run insurance program for long-term care.
Isakson, who initially called Palin's "death panel" characterization "nuts" in an interview Monday, declined later in the week to criticize Palin's statement...
Spokesmen for Lugar and Collins — two other longtime proponents of end-of-life planning — declined to comment on the House bill.