Palin's "death panel" fear mongering debunked by everyone


BREAKING NEWS: President Obama won't be putting down your grandparents now that they aren't productive members of society. And he won't be killing Sarah Palin's baby because he has Down Syndrome.

Gubernatorial quitter Palin caused quite a stir this weekend when she made some bogus claims on her Facebook page about President Obama's plan to make Americans face a "death panel" to determine if they live or die.

Well that claim has been called out as major bullshit by just about everyone. It appears only Palin and her lady friend Rep. Michele Bachmann truly believe this conspiracy.

Check up the debunking round up below.

Yesterday we reported on Palin's claim on her Facebook. She gave Bachmann an awesome fist bump, citing some of her totally correct factual information in her own fear-mongering attempts.

Here is what Palin said in her note:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
False. False. False.

This ridiculous idea spurred from other's terrible misinterpretation of a proposal in the health care reform discussions. Republicans are referencing a provision in the bill that would require Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions with seniors to discuss end-of-life medical care and create a living will if they choose. This would allow seniors to discuss what type of medical care they would like to receive, a hospice, and life-sustaining treatment. This would not encourage seniors to pull the plug early to save us all a little cash.

Read H.R. 3200 for yourself here (PDF). The provision in question is on page 425.

This rumor may have also been caused by people's poor English comprehension. The term "end-of-life" counseling is defined as discussing what type of care you would like to receive at the end of your life, NOT how you'd like the government to kill you. And these counseling sessions are not mandatory.

The rumor really picked up steam when former Republican lieutenant governor of New York Betsy McCaughey's was interviewed on Fred Thompson's radio show. McCaughey said "the Congress would make it mandatory ... that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner, how to decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go into hospice care ... all to do what's in society's best interest ... and cut your life short."

AARP responded, calling her comments "rife with gross, cruel distortions."

Ms. McCaughey's criticism misinterprets legislation that would actually help empower individuals and doctors to make their own choices on end-of-life care.

This measure would allow Medicare to pay doctors for taking the time to talk with individuals about difficult end-of-life care decisions. It would help provide people with better information on the positives and negatives--both physical and financial--that different treatments can mean for them and their families.

Facing a terminal disease or debilitating accident, some people will choose to take every possible life-saving measure in the hopes that treatment or even a cure will allow them more time with their families. Others will decide that additional treatment would impose too great a burden--emotional, physical and otherwise--on themselves and their families, declining extraordinary measures and instead choosing care to manage their discomfort. Either way, it should be their choice.

This measure would not only help people make the best decisions for themselves, but also better ensure that their wishes are followed.

FactCheck has more details on other Republicans creating similar rumors about the legislation.

The White House debuted their "Reality Check" site yesterday to bury ridiculous claims such as Palin's. What was one of their first videos about? The false "euthanasia" rumors of course.


Obama also debunked it himself:

Washington Post staff writer and columnist Howard Kurtz called on the media to call Palin's claims false.

There is a point where the media should say a politician is wrong, and this is the point. There may or may not be a legitimate discussion about the end-of-life counseling in the Obama health plan (which is voluntary, by the way) and whether it is intrusive. It's a long way from that to "death panels," even by the loose rhetorical standards of modern politics. I was surprised that the ex-governor's Facebook comments didn't get much pickup at first, though that is starting to change in the last couple of days. As I noted in this morning's column, wasn't it Sarah Palin who demanded that journalists "quick making things up"?
Even Republicans are calling Palin "nuts." Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., supports the end-of-life planning provision and said the following about Palin's comment:
I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts.
Of course Jon Stewart couldn't resist reporting on these frightening death panels and making the morbid idea totally hilarious:
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Healther Skelter - Obama Death Panel Debate
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