Death panels: A really stupid claim

After the "birthers," now come the "deathers."

Just as there were those who believed, in the face of all evidence, that President Obama’s birth certificate was a fake and that he was not really native born, there are those who believe, again against all evidence to the contrary, that Obama’s health-care reform has a provision that encourages, even requires, euthanasia.

This canard floated around the fringes of the Internet until Sarah Palin put it into mainstream play with a posting on her Facebook page:

"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 the ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

It would be downright evil if it existed, but it doesn’t.

A more extreme formulation of the "death panel," sometimes called "Cash for Granny," insists that because so much money is spent on the last 60 days of life, encouraging the elderly or the terminally ill to check out early would generate savings to pay for the rest of "Obamacare."

What the bill would do, quite reasonably, is this: If patients want to consult their doctors about so-called "end-of-life" issues, Medicare is required to pay for one session every five years, more often in the case of the critically ill.

These sessions might include living wills, which hospitals are already required to explain; designating someone the patient trusts to make decisions in the event of incapacity; and a medical explanation of ventilators, catheters, feeding tubes, colostomy drains, the whole range of devices that can sustain the vital signs of the terminally ill. Some patients will want to be resuscitated, others will not. It is important that the patient make the choice and that the doctors know what it is.

One advocate of end-of-life planning is Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who can hardly be considered a tool of the Obama administration. The Washington Post asked him about the "death panels." His answer: "How someone could take an end-of-life directive or a living will as that is nuts."

But then, so much of our national discussion of health-care reform has been simply nuts.


  1. gazelle1929

    But if you tell the big lie over and over again more and more people will believe it.

    And that’s what the nuts are counting on. Starting with Sorry Palin.

    Can you imagine Josef Goebbels, spinning in his grave (so to speak)?

  2. griff

    As is usually the case, a few people with the wrong ideas are being used to paint all opposition as crazy.

    The other day Chris Matthews suggested all people opposed to Obamacare should be given sodium pentathol until they admit they’re racists.

    It’s this kind of ridiculous propaganda masquerading as news that drives people nuts. Turn off the TV for five minutes and take a look at what this kind of nonsense is doing to our country.

  3. gazelle1929

    I absolutely agree that ” . . . a few people with the wrong ideas are being used to paint all opposition as crazy.”

    Things like this:

    “Once this law is in place there will be no review? Why would anyone support a law that can’t be reviewed?”

    Or like this:

    “Gee, a national healthcare ID card that contains or allows access to an individual’s financial status and information? The government deducting from your accounts if they deem you worthy of treatment? Sounds like freedom to me.”

    Yes, Griff, these are from one of “a few people with wrong ideas.”

    And that one person I quoted would be you.

  4. storky

    Not crazy, just woefully misinformed.

    Of course with sleazy multi-million dollar commercial campaigns to reinforce the deception, the disinformation reaches epic proportions.

    I saw a “deather” commercial on Discovery network last night.

    If there were ever a need to assess truth-in-advertising complaints, now is the time.

  5. woody188

    HR 3200, under Section 223: Payment Rates for Items and Services starting at the end of page 124 (sec 223 starts on page 121):

    (f) Limitations of Review – There shall be no administrative or judicial review of a payment rate or methodology established under this section or under section 224.

    Health Care Bill Would Allow Feds To Snoop in Your Checkbook
    Obama Health Bill Allows Government Real-time Access to Bank Accounts
    Health bill could allow government access to personal financial records

    HR 3200, under Section 163: Administrative Simplification starting at page 57

    Standardize Electronic Administrative Transactions.

    (D) enable the real-time (or near real time) determination of an individual’s financial responsibility at the point of service and, to the extent possible, prior to service, including whether the individual is eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility, which may include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card;

    (E) enable, where feasible, near real-time adjudication of claims;

    (F) provide for timely acknowledgment, response, and status reporting applicable to any electronic transaction deemed appropriate by the Secretary;

    We’ll let people decide for themselves who is telling the truth.

  6. storky

    Incorrect assessment
    Subsection (d) describes how the computerized system queries your POLICY (not your checkbook) to determine your copay obligation and coverage based on the plan you’ve chosen.

  7. woody188

    You are free to dispute that with the editors of the 3 sites I’ve provided for you. If it isn’t spelled out to the letter, it can be construed either way. I’m not going to take it on faith that they have my best interests in mind.

    Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, said the provision in the House bill that calls for an ID card actually goes much further and would allow the government access to a patient’s bank account, in order to determine ability to pay.

    “What I see as being problematic is that the government can get into your bank account and see how much is in there,” Furchtgott-Roth said.

    It’s also not lost on me that this health care benefit ID could easily become what was known as the Real ID, the national identification card we’ve railed against since forever. Only this card will also have your medical history attached, so it’s worse than we even imagined for Real ID!

    If we are really lucky, they will mandate it to have biometrics and rfid built into it so smart folks like me can sniff your personal information and use it to steal your identity. CHA-CHING! (yes this is sarcasm, though I could sniff/snort rfid if I wanted to…)

  8. storky

    She’s wrong!
    “individual’s financial responsibility at the point of service” = copay

  9. griff

    And of course you conveniently left out the actual excerpt from the bill which defines which specific sections are unreviewable. I agreed that my specific wording, which I later clarified for you, was not the best. But again, why would you support anything, whether whole or in part, that is unreviewable?

    For the rest, see Woody’s post below.

    My insurance doesn’t require real-time access to my financial records. So why does the government? I don’t see where this is necessary at all. Haven’t we had enough intrusion and spying by the government already? You may think it’s no big deal, but I, and millions of others do.

    Trust the government at your own risk.

    The whole idea of setting up a health insurance exchange sounds to me like another profiteering scheme enabled, as usual, by government intervention. Haven’t robbed us enough in the stock exchange. Bring on the carbon credit exchange and the healthcare exchange, where we’ll be exchanging our money for more bureaucratic busybodies controlling every aspect of our existence.

  10. storky

    Repeated Stupidity
    Republicans don’t have an alternative plan to promote or defend. Instead they choose to crap on other folks good work. They combat effort and devotion with stupidity!


    Explain the parts you claim are unreviewable because SEC. 132. REQUIRING FAIR GRIEVANCE AND APPEALS MECHANISM covers many review processes.

    “My insurance doesn’t require real-time access to my financial records. So why does the government?”

    It doesn’t. The system determines your copay and coverage. It doesn’t examine your finances — that’s utter nonsense.

    Yeah, rather than engage in debate, let’s just make crap up.

    Trust shysters at your own risk!

  11. douin

    It is only good planning for any adult to have a Living Will or an End of Life Directive. That has been a part of my portfolio for many years. Seems so unfair to leave those kinds of decisions to our Loved Ones to sort out at a time of extreme concern for our life. Only an ignorant person would make that into something evil.

    When I had surgery in 1992, I was asked if I wanted to sign such a Directive. I was happy to say that I had already taken care of that important Responsibility. Needless to say, so were my loved ones. It removed a huge burden from off their shoulders.

    All I can say to all those that question the necessity of such a Directive is that they should themselves before vehemently protesting something that they know nothing about.

    It would also be a good idea, in the same Directive, to stipulate if you desire to be an organ donor, or not. It is your decision — and no one else can over-rule your stated stipulations, even after your death.

  12. woody188

    no one else can over-rule your stated stipulations, even after your death.

    The Terri Schiavo case disputes this claim. The bureaucratic a–holes should just stay out of family matters.

  13. storky


    But remember, it was the Conservative Republican Charlie Christ who performed a TV diagnosis and attempted to overrule the spouse’s decision.

  14. woody188

    If that is your conclusion. Love to hear how you came to that conclusion. I see both major parties as having made contributions to our current problems. The policies haven’t really changed since Reagan. And it’s going to take all of us to get out of this mess with our Constitution intact. Which is why it’s so terrible to see folks so caught up in the false left/right paradigm our government uses to keep us divided.

    Doesn’t matter, I’m not here to convince. We all see what we want to see regardless.