End of Life Issues | Media Matters for America

End of Life Issues

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  • Sean Hannity Blames Rise In Death Rate Among Seniors To Debunked Myth Of Obamacare "Death Panels"

    Politifact Dubbed “Death Panels” The Lie Of The Year In 2009

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Radio host Sean Hannity linked the rising death rate for seniors to alleged “death panels” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), reviving the thoroughly debunked claim that the ACA would create "death panels" that would ration care to seniors.

    A June 1 New York Times article reported the rise in the US death as a “rare increase that was driven in part by more people dying from drug overdoses, suicide, and Alzheimer's disease":

    The death rate in the United States rose last year for the first time in a decade, preliminary federal data show, a rare increase that was driven in part by more people dying from drug overdoses, suicide and Alzheimer’s disease. The death rate from heart disease, long in decline, edged up slightly.


    While recent research has documented sharp rises in death rates among certain groups — in particular less educated whites, who have been hardest hit by the prescription drug epidemic — increases for the entire population are relatively rare.

    Federal researchers cautioned that it was too early to tell whether the rising mortality among whites had pushed up the overall national death rate. (Preliminary data is not broken down by race, and final data will not be out until later this year.)

    Hannity blamed ACA telling listeners that the rise in death rates started in 2015 which “represented the very first year Obamacare was fully implemented. Hannity also hyped that "Sarah Palin was mocked for using the term 'death panels'":

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Here's more evidence by the way that socialism doesn't work. A couple of weeks ago, Betsy McCaughey, she's been so adamant and so on top of, I mean, for years, when we were debating Obamacare, she carried the whole bill into the studio, into the TV studio. Underlined, highlighted, she read it, she's the only one that I know that read it, and read it, and read it and read it and knows it.

    Anyway, she reported on two studies that showed that since the implementation of Obamacare -- and remember what you were promised, you keep your doctor, keep your plan, average family saves $2,500 per family, per year. Well, she found since it's implementation 17,000 seniors have died prematurely, just in California, due to rationed care. Remember Sarah Palin was mocked for using the term "death panels"?

    Anyway, so you get a headline in the New York Times, quote "The first rise in US death rate in years surprises the experts." Well guess what? This year, you know, this totally unexpected rise in the death rate, you don't want to know when it started? In 2015. You know what the year 2015 represented? The very first year Obamacare was fully implemented. And of course, The Times, they're not going to make that connection. They're mystified over what could possibly be causing the dramatic turnaround in the death rate.

    Hannity’s baseless attempt to connect so called “death panels” to the increased US death rate continues his tradition of hyping “death panels” to smear the ACA. Hannity has previously claimed that “death panels will exist” and people will die, argued “death panels are inevitable,” and suggested to Sarah Palin that the Veterans’ Administration was a “death panel.”

    The so called “death panels” Hannity is referring to is the ACA’s Individual Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is an expert body of 15 health care experts appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate to slow the growth of health care spending and improve the quality of care patients receive. The ACA explicitly states that IPAB cannot make recommendations to ration care or make health care decisions for individuals.

    The “death panel” myth is in line with a wider conservative media campaign to smear the ACA by stoking fears of health care recipients. The “death panel” smear was so pervasive that Politifact dubbed it 2009’s Lie of the Year.

  • Fox Hypes Daily Mail Article To Help Palin Promote "Death Panels" Lie

    Blog ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

    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."

  • Mark Levin Hoax Caller's "Death Panel" Lie Sets Off Right-Wing Echo Chamber

    Blog ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    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:

  • RedState Ties Norwegian Bombing Tragedy To Pro-Choice Movement, End Of Life Issues

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    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.


    CNN's Erick Erickson Suggests "Mass Bloodshed" May Be Necessary If Roe Isn't Overturned

    CNN's Erickson Stands By Statement That "Mass Bloodshed" Will Be Necessary If Roe V. Wade Isn't Overturned

    Erickson Seizes On Obama's Speech To Revive "Death Panel" Lie

  • Wash. Times' Wolf "Lie[s]" To Accuse Obama Of Lying On Health Care

    ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    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.

  • WSJ's John Fund Spreads Falsehoods About Indiana Law Defunding Planned Parenthood

    ››› ››› ANDY NEWBOLD

    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."

  • Big Government Repeats False Claim That IPAB Will Ration Health Care

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    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.

  • Serial Health Care Fearmongerers Fox & Friends Attack Obama for "Scaring" Seniors


    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.