The Fox Nation revives "death panel" myth by naming its "first...victim"


Following a report that a hospital denied treatment to a Florida mother after an increase in her income made her no longer eligible for Medicaid coverage, The Fox Nation posted the story under the headline "The First 'Death Panel' Victim?" In fact, the decision to stop her treatment, which was later reversed, was made by the hospital treating her -- not by a government panel -- and had nothing to do with any provisions of health care reform legislation.

The Fox Nation asks if Florida mother is "The First 'Death Panel' Victim?"

The Fox Nation: "The First 'Death Panel' Victim?" On April 12, The Fox Nation posted a local Florida CBS affiliate's article about a woman whose son's Social Security disability benefits raised her income level enough to make her ineligible for Medicaid. Her hospital then canceled her treatment for leukemia, reportedly out of liability concerns, until political and community pressure caused it to reverse the decision. The Fox Nation linked to the article under the headline "The First 'Death Panel' Victim?":

In fact, the hospital decided to stop her treatment, not a government panel

Hospital reportedly said it "could not provide the procedure because the risk is too high," making them "subject to liability issues." The CBS4 article to which The Fox Nation linked reported that the hospital chose to cease treating the patient after the she was no longer covered under Medicaid because it would be "subject to liability issues." From the CBS4, Fort Lauderdale, article:

In April, Medicaid canceled her universal health care policy because her income level had risen with her son's payments - making her ineligible for the insurance program.

The problem is Jackson Memorial Hospital could not provide the procedure because the risk is too high. The universal policy from Medicaid helps shield the hospital from liability in this kind of case. Without it, they are subject to liability issues.

WSVN: "Jackson Memorial backed out of the surgery." An April 12 article on Miami's WSVN reported that "Diana Smith, 28, was diagnosed with leukemia last July and was supposed to receive a bone marrow transplant on Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Smith's insurance company agreed to cover the transplant surgery; however, the company did not agree to cover the cost of the operation to remove the bone marrow from the donor." The article added that, "In February, the community helped Smith raise over $133,000 for the transplant. However, Jackson Memorial Hospital backed out of the surgery because Medicaid canceled Smith's coverage." However, "Smith's surgery will proceed because of the pressure local residents placed on politicians."

Health care reform would increase income ceiling for Medicaid eligibility

Passed health care bill raises national Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. From Title II, Subtitle A of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as passed:


Subtitle A-Improved Access to Medicaid



(1) BEGINNING 2014.-Section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396a) is amended-

(A) by striking ''or'' at the end of subclause (VI);
(B) by adding ''or'' at the end of subclause (VII); and
(C) by inserting after subclause (VII) the following:
''(VIII) beginning January 1, 2014, who are under 65 years of age, not pregnant, not entitled to, or enrolled for, benefits under part A of title XVIII, or enrolled for benefits under part B of title XVIII, and are not described in a previous subclause of this clause, and whose income (as determined under subsection (e)(14)) does not exceed 133 percent of the poverty line (as defined in section 2110(c)(5)) applicable to a family, subject to subsection (k);''

White House: "States will be allowed to expand Medicaid eligibility to more individuals." From a White House fact sheet:

Beginning in April of this year, States will be allowed to expand Medicaid eligibility to more individuals. Starting on January 1, 2014, all low-income, non-elderly and non-disabled individuals will be eligible for Medicaid. This includes unemployed adults and working famlies [sic]...all people with income below $29,000 for a family of four (133% of poverty).

The Federal Government will support States by providing 100% of the cost of newly eligible people between 2014 and 2016, 95% of the costs in 2017, 94% of the costs in 2018, 93% of the costs in 2019, and 90 percent matching for subsequent years.

The President's Bill also recognizes the early investment that some States have made in helping the uninsured by expanding Medicaid to adults with income below 100% of poverty by increasing those States' matching rate for the cost of childless adults. It phases up the Federal matching payments so it is equal to that for the cost of newly eligible people by 2019 The President's Bill also provides additional assistance to the Territories by providing them with an additional $2 billion and the option to establish an Exchange.

Kaiser Family Foundation: "New law expands Medicaid to a national floor of 133% of poverty." According to an April 7 Kaiser Family Foundation guide to "Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program Provisions in the New Health Reform Law":

The new law expands Medicaid to a national floor of 133% of poverty ($14,404 for an individual or about $29,326 for a family of four in 2009) to help reduce state-by-state variation in eligibility for Medicaid and also include non-Medicare eligible adults under age 65 without dependent children who are currently not eligible for the program. Children currently covered by CHIP between 100% and 133% of poverty would be transitioned to Medicaid coverage. These changes help to provide the base of seamless and affordable coverage nationwide through Medicaid for those with incomes up to 133% of poverty and then subsidies for coverage for individuals with incomes between 133% and 400% of poverty through state-based Health Benefit Exchanges.

The "death panel" myth has been debunked numerous times

Media debunked the death panels -- more than 40 times over. Numerous media outlets debunked right-wing claims that health care reform would encourage euthanasia of the elderly, including Sarah Palin's claim -- forwarded by the conservative media -- that the bill would create a "death panel." Indeed, Media Matters for America identified more than 40 instances of media reporting that these claims are false.

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