Upton investigating Obama ‘death panel’ regulation; asks for briefing

Jonathan Strong Contributor

Top GOP health-care official Rep. Fred Upton is investigating the end-of-life counseling regulation Sarah Palin famously referred to as “death panels” — a rule that was stripped from the president’s health-care law following the controversy, but stealthily added back by administrative fiat.

Upton and three other members of the Energy and Commerce Committee say in a March 14 letter that Kathleen Sebelius’s decision to add the end-of-life planning “without notice or public comment” shows “there appear to be no limits to [Sebelius’s] power” under Obamacare.

The letter requests a briefing from Sebelius’s “designee” on how the decision was made to enact end-of-life planning. The briefing is requested to take place between March 21 and 25.

According to the letter, Sebelius “openly admitted” her role in deciding to promulgate the end-of-life planning regulation herself without notice or public comment.

“We hope to learn what the department’s internal discussions were regarding this provision, and to learn how it was surreptitiously inserted and what can be done in the future to guarantee that the administration will not try to usurp Congressional prerogatives,” the letter says.

In January, the Obama administration reversed course again and announced it was taking end-of-life planning out of the regulation following controversy when its existence was revealed.

Donald Berwick, an administration official, was one key person pushing the provision.