- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 16, 2009

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. | President Obama for the first time invoked the death of his own grandmother to strike back against opponents of his health care plan who have tried to claim it would create government “death panels” to “pull the plug on grandma.”

“What you can’t do - or you can, but you shouldn’t do - is start saying things like, we want to set up death panels to pull the plug on grandma,” Mr. Obama told 1,600 people at a high school gymnasium here.

“I mean, come on. I mean, I just - first of all, when you make a comment like that - I just lost my grandmother last year. I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love, who’s aging, deteriorate, and have to struggle with that. So the notion that somehow I ran for public office, or members of Congress are in this so that they can go around pulling the plug on grandma? I mean, when you start making arguments like that, that’s simply dishonest,” he said.

Mr. Obama has rarely mentioned the painful loss of his grandmother last year, two days before the election. He pulled off the campaign trail shortly before the election to fly to Hawaii to visit with her. He delivered the stunning commentary in the midst of a freewheeling town hall, after a member of the audience complained to him about misinformation circulating to try and stymie the president’s plan.

“Here’s what this was about,” the president said, in trying to explain the genesis of the death-panel complaints. “We had a provision in the House bill that would give the option - the option - of somebody getting counseling on end-of-life care or hospice care, and have it reimbursed by Medicare; the option - voluntary - so you’d have more information about how to deal with these situations.”

“Turns out,” he continued, “in Medicare Part D, which was passed by a Republican Congress, they had the exact same provision.”

“So when I have people who just a couple of years ago thought this was a good idea now getting on television suggesting that it’s a plot against grandma or to sneak euthanasia into our health care system, that feels dishonest to me,” he said to rousing applause. “And we’ve got enough stuff to deal with without having these kinds of arguments.”