In the five years since President Obama's health care reform plan -- which became the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- was first introduced, the right-wing media has waged a continuous campaign to attack the law through misinformation, deception, and outright lies.
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld hyped a Daily Mail article that smears end-of-life care in Britain as "euthanasia," repeating the article's false claim that "130,000 elderly patients are euthanized prematurely" because of the health care system there. In fact, the kind of care that these patients receive is offered only after their doctors "agree that all reversible causes for their condition have been considered."
Gutfeld made his claim while the show he co-hosts, The Five, was hosting Fox News contributor Sarah Palin to discuss the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act. Palin again peddled the long-debunked claim that the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board is a "death panel" that "will tell you ... whether your level of productivity in society is worthy of receiving the rationed care that will be the result of Obamacare."
Gutfeld agreed with Palin and responded: "To your point, the Daily Mail in the U.K. reported that 130,000 elderly patients are euthanized prematurely because they don't have enough room for beds. Which goes to your point -- inevitably, this is what happens."
From the March 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the March 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Back in November, a man referring to himself as "Jeff" called right-wing radio host Mark Levin's show claiming to have information about President Obama's health care law. Jeff claimed to be a "brain surgeon" who had just "returned from Washington, D.C.," where he and other neurological doctors had reviewed a document allegedly issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding "Obama's new health care plan for advanced neurosurgical care."
Jeff went on to claim that the document "did not call [patients older than 70] patients, they called them units" and stated that "if you're over 70 and you'd come into an emergency room and you're on government-supported health care that you get comfort care" instead of medically necessary neurological surgery. Jeff further claimed the document mandated "ethics committee[s]," to which Levin replied: "So, Sarah Palin was right. We're going to have these death panels, aren't we?" Jeff responded, "Oh, absolutely," and made a comparison to Nazi Germany.
The interaction was picked up by the usual right-wing media outlets, hungry for new fodder to keep their long-debunked "death panel" myth alive. On November 29, Fox Nation posted audio of thecall on Levin's show under the headline, "Neurosurgeon Dishes on Obamacare 'Death Panels', Administration Calls Patients 'Units.' " From Fox Nation:
In a July 25 post to Erick Erickson's blog RedState, regular contributor Repair_Man_Jack tied the recent tragic bombing in Norway to the pro-choice movement and end-of-life issues. From the post:
A society that cheapens the value of life can reasonably expect to produce Nietzschean Supermen like Breivik with increasing frequency as that culture's fundamental apostasy rages unchecked.
Thus, I am Pro-Life. This extends far beyond my desire to eliminate both abortion and state-encouraged euthanasia as much as possible. Cheapening the fundamental value of life cheapens all of us. It makes our children's futures less hopeful. Human life, even the lives of other human beings that I forget to love as brothers, is a lot more important than I, or anyone else will ever be as solipsistic individuals. When a society forgets this, many lives will soon become forfeit.
We live in a world where we are perfectly happy to abort millions of children and then DEMAND to know WHY Anders Behring Breivik became the human sarcoma that he truly is. We live in a world where people praise Jack Kevorkian as some sort of efficiency expert, but we have outraged news stories when someone in Seattle shoots his fellow man for insulting the paint job on his car. I mean it's rough sanding down the frame and applying a new coat of primer. Give the guy an efficiency ribbon. Al Gore decries our global overpopulation anyway.
In a Washington Times column, Dr. Milton Wolf, a blogger who purports to be a distant cousin of the president, accused President Obama of lying about aspects of health care reform in claiming that health care reform would lower the deficit and that "there are no death panels," among other things. In fact, most of Wolf's accusations are based on persistent, long-debunked right-wing myths about health care reform.
On the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund spread falsehoods to defend a recent Indiana law that bans state Medicaid money from going to non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood. Fund falsely claimed that Indiana "has the right to decide" whether to contract with Planned Parenthood for Medicaid services and that Planned Parenthood "counselors advis[ed] underage teenage girls who were supposedly sex workers on how to have an abortion."
From the May 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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An April 25 post on right-wing blog Big Government claims that the Obama administration's "proposal to decrease healthcare costs ... [is] rationing." The post claims that the Medicare Independent Advisory Board (IPAB) will likely "limit healthcare costs by reducing access to physicians, restricting choice of treatments, [and] restricting access to medication and technology." However, as Media Matters has previously documented, the Affordable Care Act prohibits the IPAB from making decisions that would "any recommendations to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits." From the Big Government post:
After months of denial that healthcare reform would involve rationing of healthcare for those who are the most vulnerable, the senior citizens who depend on Medicare, the President has come up with a proposal to decrease healthcare costs and guess what....it's rationing.
Under Obamacare, a 15 member panel known as the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) was created to 'oversee healthcare costs'. This panel consists of individuals appointed by the President and confirmed by Congress - two ingredients that make it highly unlikely that they would be truly independent. In addition, there is no requirement that members be practicing physicians which is a recipe for cuts that are highly likely to affect the delivery of quality individualized patient care.
[I]f the goal [of the IPAB] is to limit healthcare costs by reducing access to physicians, restricting choice of treatments, restricting access to medication and technology, and/or hoping that people will either be to sick or too frustrated to access the system while playing the crony politics of rewarding those who helped craft Obamacare, then it is well on its way.
Right-wing media have recently revived the falsehood that the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the health care law will lead to health care rationing. In fact, the law specifically prohibits the Advisory Board from making "any recommendations to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits."
From the April 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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After President Obama pointed out cuts in Rep. Paul Ryan's budget to elderly care and education programs, Fox & Friends reacted by accusing Obama of "playing on the public's fear." But Fox & Friends has relentlessly attacked the health care bill by advancing the false "death panels" myth and criticizing cuts in Medicare, whereas experts agree with Obama that Ryan's plan will hurt seniors.
Following the president's deficit speech Wednesday, CNN's Erick Erickson quickly grasped at straws to revive one of the right-wing media's go-to falsehoods about healthcare: death panels.
From Erickson's RedState.com post, "Barack Obama Fully Embraces Death Panels":
While everyone else was focused on Barack Obama bashing Paul Ryan, I noticed that he took full ownership of death panels yesterday. Naturally, Obama did not call them death panels. He called them "an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers." But his description hits dead on with what his death panels will do.
According to Barack Obama yesterday, the death panels "will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need."
We already know what they'll recommend as "the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending". Barack Obama's own advisers have told us. They will prioritize giving health care to healthier people and let sicker people die. At end of life, they will deny people life sustaining treatment because, after all, they're going to die anyway. Note his phrasing: "protecting access to the services seniors need." Dying people, according to Obama's advisers, need hospice not hope. They certainly do not need expensive treatments that may buy them time to see the birth of a new grandchild or other reasons.
You may not like the use of the phrase "death panel," but make no mistake about it -- at the end of your life, in Barack Obama's America, his death panel will throw you under the bus in a way much closer to reality than metaphor.
Despite hard evidence showing otherwise, Glenn Beck has continued to claim that a "death panel" -- a myth introduced by Sarah Palin during the debate over health care reform in 2009 -- is "coming." Indeed, Beck twice repeated the false claim on his radio show recently, and he has been pushing the myth incessantly since promoting it almost two years ago by saying: "I believe it to be true."