Can you guess what? “Death panels”.
On July 16, Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York and a conservative health care commentator, suggested that the Democratic plan included a measure requiring seniors be told how to end their lives. “Congress would make it mandatory ? absolutely require ? that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner,” she said on a radio show hosted by conservative Fred Thompson.
PolitiFact gave McCaughey a Pants on Fire rating for that statement. There were no mandatory sessions proposed. Instead, for the first time, Medicare would pay for doctors’ appointments for patients to discuss living wills, health care directives and other end-of-life issues. The appointments were optional, and the AARP supported the measure.
Nevertheless, Republican officials began amplifying McCaughey’s comments.
House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement July 23 that said, “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law.”
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said on the House floor July 28 that a Republican alternative for health reform was “pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”
Palin’s statement then launched the health care debate into overdrive. The term was mentioned in news reports approximately 6,000 times in August and September, according to the Nexis database. By October, it was still being mentioned 150 to 300 times a week.
On Aug. 10, PolitiFact rated Palin’s statement Pants on Fire. In the weeks that followed, health care policy experts on both the right and the left said the euthanasia comparisons were inaccurate. Gail Wilensky, a health adviser to President George H.W. Bush, said the charge was untrue and upsetting.
“I think it is really unfortunate that this has been raised and received so much attention because there are serious issues to debate in health care reform,” she said at a forum on Sept. 3.
But some prominent Republicans didn’t reject the death panels claim.
Liars. Big surprise. Palin’s spin was every bit as ridiculous as the original claim.
“To me, while reading that section of the bill, it became so evident that there would be a panel of bureaucrats who would decide on levels of health care, decide on those who are worthy or not worthy of receiving some government-controlled coverage,” she said. “Since health care would have to be rationed if it were promised to everyone, it would therefore lead to harm for many individuals not able to receive the government care. That leads, of course, to death.”
“The term I used to describe the panel making these decisions should not be taken literally,” said Palin. The phrase is “a lot like when President Reagan used to refer to the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire.’ He got his point across. He got people thinking and researching what he was talking about. It was quite effective. Same thing with the ?death panels.’ I would characterize them like that again, in a heartbeat.”
Ah, the sweetheart of the GOP. Palin 2012!