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Sens. Drop End-of-Life Provision from Bill

Key senators are excluding a provision on end-of-life care from health overhaul legislation after language in a House bill caused a furor.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the provision had been dropped from consideration because it could be misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly.

CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports that proponents of health care reform believe that if more terminally ill patients were given end-of-life counseling, they would be less likely to chose futile, expensive treatments. It is estimated that 27 percent of Medicare's $327 billion budget is used by patients in the last year of life. That makes end-of-life spending an attractive target for cost cutting, Cobiella reports.

A health care bill passed by three House committees allows Medicare to reimburse doctors for voluntary counseling sessions about end-of-life decisions. But critics have claimed the provision could lead to death panels and euthanasia for seniors.

The Senate Finance Committee is still working to complete a bill.