In an August 19 Washington Times op-ed, medical malpractice attorney Robert W. Painter pointed to the "unintended consequences" of Texas' 1999 Advanced Directives Act to argue that "for many states," Sarah Palin's claim that a provision of the House health care reform bill "would result in 'death panels' " is likely "dead-on." However, the House provision -- which allows Medicare to cover voluntary counseling sessions in which patients can make decisions about their end-of-life care -- has nothing to do with the relevant part of the Texas statute, which establishes procedures for doctors to follow when refusing to provide patient-directed treatment (including life-sustaining treatment) they consider inappropriate.
Just as former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey backtracked on her false claim that the House health care reform bill would "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling, other conservative media figures are hedging their support for former Gov. Sarah Palin's false claim that the health care bill would create government "death panels" to decide who lives and dies. These conservatives are allowing that there won't be actual "death panels," but also claiming that the bill itself will inevitably lead to the government making end-of-life medical decisions, or as a Fox News chyron put it: "De Facto Death Panels."