A pundit who helped spark the 2009 "death panels" firestorm insists the Obama administration's move to pay doctors for end-of-life counseling will nudge patients toward premature death.

"Patients and their families should be very well informed about the agenda here, because it is not just ensuring their doctor is adequately paid, it's about ensuring they're pressured into a shorter end of life," Betsy McCaughey, former New York lieutenant governor, told the Washington Examiner Thursday.

The Obama administration proposed Wednesday to begin paying Medicare doctors if they choose to counsel patients about what type of care they would like to receive as they near death. Many health experts consider end-of-life counseling a way to reduce unnecessary healthcare interventions and spending, which often soar in the final few months of life.

But as healthcare reform was being debated in 2009, pundits including McCaughey and Sarah Palin sparked widespread fear that the policy would prompt doctors to pressure patients into refusing medical interventions that could otherwise extend their lives.

While McCaughey called it a "vicious assault on elderly people," Palin said the policy would lead to "death panels."

This week's rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposes only to reimburse doctors for such counseling, without laying out any guidelines or requirements for what they must say to patients.

But McCaughey insists that when the policy is finalized — likely this fall — it will dictate how doctors conduct the counseling and will penalize them if they don't offer it.

"I'll bet you a steak dinner on that one, because that's the way it's always going to be," said McCaughey, a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research who appears frequently on cable television and is known for her opposition to Obamacare.

She called the rule a "disguise" for what's "actually intended" — the government deciding when people die. "It's none of the government's business how we die," she said.

Republicans, including House Majority Leader John Boehner, echoed McCaughey and Palin's claims about end-of-life counseling reimbursements, which never made it into the final healthcare law.

But the GOP has been relatively silent so far on the proposed rule. McCaughey said that's because advocates "are not being truthful about what they have in mind."

"This is a degree of intrusion that is unacceptable," she said.