Conservative Media Revive Death Panel Myth Amid Good Obamacare News


Conservative media attempted to revive the “death panels” zombie lie amid several weeks of good news about the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) success. 

In a September 17 piece for The Atlantic, former White House health care adviser Ezekiel J. Emanuel outlined his opinions on end of life healthcare and argued that 75 is the ideal age to die.

Right-wing media jumped on Emanuel's comments as an opportunity to resuscitate the thoroughly debunked claim that the ACA would create “death panels” to ration health care and slow the growth of medical costs.

A September 24 post from National Review Online claimed that Emanuel's Atlantic article demonstrated that conservative warnings that the ACA was “a first step toward medical rationing” were plausible: “Read Emanuel's diatribe against living too long, and suddenly Sarah Palin's attack on Obamacare's ”death panels" does not seem so far-fetched."

Fox News also used Emmanuel's comments as an opportunity to discuss “death panels” in a September 26 segment on Fox & Friends. Responding to Emmanuel's suggestion that there is an ideal time to die, Fox contributor Dr. Marc Siegel asked if that means they should “write off” patients at a certain age, suggesting the Post Office or IRS may one day get to make that decision. Co-host Steve Doocy added, “Maybe you're talking about those death panels that have been rumored for so long.”

While right-wing media twists itself into knots stoking outrage over the long-discredited myth of “death panels,” actual news reports have recently underlined the ACA's successes.

On September 18, the Obama administration announced that 7.3 million Americans had enrolled in health insurance plans through the Obamacare exchanges and paid their premiums -- a number that is “much higher than the 6 million that the Congressional Budget Office forecast would be covered this year,” Politico noted, and debunks conservative allegations that the administration is “cooking the books.” 

But this wasn't the only good news for the health care law. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell recently reported that the ACA has reduced the amount of uninsured people in the United States by 26 percent. A recent report from the Commonwealth Fund also found that the health care law had decreased the uninsured rate by as much as 13 percent among Latinos, a group that has “historically suffered the highest uninsurance rate in the U.S,” according to the Huffington Post.

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