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A History Of Death Panels: A Timeline

In honor of the one year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Media Matters presents a timeline of one of the most disgraceful and pernicious myths about the law--death panels.

  • Betsy McCaughey Launches Health Care Debate With A Lie

    McCaughey Helps Spread Falsehood Through Conservative Media

    PolitiFact Debunks McCaughey's Claim

    Fox News, Right-Wing Figures Continue To Push False Claim

    McCaughey Backpedaled On Claim When Confronted By Criticism

    Media Echo Chamber Pushes On With Falsehood

    Sarah Palin Amps Up The Falsehood By Introducing The Death Panel Myth

    Fox News Personalities Quickly Adopt “Death Panel” Claim

    Fox News Revive Discredited “Death Panels” Lie To Attack VA

    Conservative Media Resurrect Death Panel Lie To Claim That They Are Included In Merged House Bill

    Conservative Media Figures Link Nonbinding Mammogram Guidelines To “Death Panels”

    PolitiFact Names “Death Panels” Its 2009 “Lie Of The Year”

    Palin Revives Death Panel Myth To Ask If They Are “Back In” Senate Health Care Bill

    Conservative Media Revive “Death Panels” Yet Again With New, False Target: The Independent Medicare Advisory Board

    Despite Debunking And “Lie Of The Year” Designation, Conservative Media Figures Continued To Push Death Panel Myth In 2010

    Right-Wing Media Seized on Orszag Comment To Claim That Health Care Law Contains Death Panels

    Right-Wing Media Figures Cited Ineffective Drug Avastin As Evidence Of Death Panels

    Right-Wing Media Kicked Off 2011 By Dusting Off “Death Panel” Lie

    Betsy McCaughey Launches Health Care Debate With A Lie

    The House Introduces Health Care Reform Bill. In August 2009, The New York Times reported:

    A pending House bill has language authorizing Medicare to finance beneficiaries' consultations with professionals on whether to authorize aggressive and potentially life-saving interventions later in life. Though the consultations would be voluntary, and a similar provision passed in Congress last year without such a furor, Mr. Grassley said it was being dropped in the Senate “because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.” [The New York Times, 8/13/09]

    McCaughey: "[T]he Congress Would Make It Mandatory -- Absolutely Require -- That Every Five Years, People In Medicare Have A Required Counseling Session That Will Tell Them How To End Their Life Sooner." On July 16, 2009, Betsy McCaughey falsely claimed that the House health care reform bill would “require” end-of-life counseling for seniors to “tell them how to end their life sooner.” From Fred Thompson's radio show, where McCaughey first made the claim:

    And one of the most shocking things I found in this bill, and there were many, is on Page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory -- absolutely require -- that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner, how to decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go in to hospice care. And by the way, the bill expressly says that if you get sick somewhere in that five-year period -- if you get a cancer diagnosis, for example -- you have to go through that session again. All to do what's in society's best interest or your family's best interest and cut your life short. These are such sacred issues of life and death. Government should have nothing to do with this. [fredthompsonshow.com, 7/16/09]

    McCaughey Helps Spread Falsehood Through Conservative Media

    McCaughey: House Bill “Compels Seniors” To “Submit” To Counseling Sessions. From McCaughey's July 17, 2009, New York Post op-ed:

    One troubling provision of the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care (House bill, p. 425-430). The sessions cover highly sensitive matters such as whether to receive antibiotics and “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.”

    This mandate invites abuse, and seniors could easily be pushed to refuse care. Do we really want government involved in such deeply personal issues? [The New York Post, 7/17/09]

    Hannity: Seniors “Forced To Undergo, Quote, 'End-Of-Life Counseling,' Apparently To Encourage Them To Check Out Before Their Time Is Up.” From Hannity's July 17, 2009, radio show:

    Now, she [McCaughey] actually uncovered in this bill a particularly outrageous provision -- and by the way, there will be more to come in the Obamacare plan. According to McCaughey, she's saying under the House provision and the House version, perfectly healthy senior citizens are going to be forced to undergo, quote, 'end of life counseling,' apparently to encourage them to check out before their time is up. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/17/09]

    Ingraham: "[M]andatory Counseling Session" By “Government Bureaucrat” Is “Frightening.” On the July 17, 2009, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham said:

    The fact that a government bureaucrat will come to an old person's house as a mandatory counseling session -- first of all, stay away from my father, who is 83 years old. I do not want any government bureaucrat telling him what kind of treatment he should consider to be a good citizen. That's frightening. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/17/09, via Nexis]

    Limbaugh: Bill Provides For “Mandatory Counseling.” On his July 21, 2009, show, Rush Limbaugh said:

    You know what we ought to do? We ought to put together a single page cut-and-paste fact sheet at RushLimbaugh.com that people could cut and paste and fax to the White House so that Obama will know what is in the bill.

    I'll bet he doesn't know that there is end-of-life counseling for senior citizens on page 425 to 430. What is this counseling going to be? Why would you need mandatory counseling for all seniors, and who's going to pay for this? Mandatory counseling for all seniors at a minimum of every five years, more often if the seasoned citizen is sick or in a nursing home. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/21/09]

    McCaughey: Bill Will "Pressure The Elderly To End Their Lives Prematurely." In a July 23, 2009, Wall Street Journal op-ed, McCaughey again claimed:

    While the House bill being pushed by the president reduces access to such cures and specialists, it ensures that seniors are counseled on end-of-life options, including refusing nutrition where state law allows it (pp. 425-446). [The Wall Street Journal, 7/23/09]

    PolitiFact Debunks McCaughey's Claim

    McCaughey's Original Claim Gets “Pants On Fire” Status. On July 23, 2009, PolitiFact.com reported: “On the radio show of former Sen. Fred Thompson on July 16, 2009, McCaughey said 'Congress would make it mandatory -- absolutely require -- that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner.' ” PolitiFact.com stated:

    For our ruling on this one, there's really no gray area here. McCaughey incorrectly states that the bill would require Medicare patients to have these counseling sessions and she is suggesting that the government is somehow trying to interfere with a very personal decision. And her claim that the sessions would “tell [seniors] how to end their life sooner” is an outright distortion. Rather, the sessions are an option for elderly patients who want to learn more about living wills, health care proxies and other forms of end-of-life planning. McCaughey isn't just wrong, she's spreading a ridiculous falsehood. That's a Pants on Fire. [PolitiFact, 7/23/09]

    Fox News, Right-Wing Figures Continue To Push False Claim

    Hannity: Bill Includes “Mandatory Advisory Counseling Sessions With The Elderly.” From the July 27, 2009, edition of Hannity:

    MORRIS: I think that what's going on right now is Hillary's health care proposal lost because of middle class voters. His health care proposal is losing because of senior citizens. They are getting that this is creeping euthanasia. That essentially what you're saying is no, there's a two-year wait for this, you can't have this, you can't have that.

    But by the way, hospice care if available.

    HANNITY: But they're going to have mandatory advisory counseling sessions with the elderly about their, quote, “options.” I mean it's eerie. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/27/09]

    Fox News' Johnson: Health Care Reform “A Subtle Form Of Euthanasia.” Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said on the July 27, 2009, Fox & Friends:

    Some people are saying, well, this is a health care reform, other people say -- maybe me -- that this is a subtle form of euthanasia. And when you start looking at the proposals, you say, God, what's happening?

    One of the proposals, Section 1233, talks about advanced care planning consultations. And that's a fancy term where a doctor goes to you every five years once you're 65, or more if you're chronically ill, and explains to you the benefits of so-called palliative care, of not giving active treatment. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/27/09]

    Wash. Times Uncritically Reported McCaughey's Claim. In a July 28, 2009, article, The Washington Times reported:

    Elizabeth McCaughey, widely credited (or blamed) for helping sink Hillary Rodham Clinton's national health care proposal in the 1990s, is back again, wading through the details of a massive health care proposal, and has made a startling claim circulated widely among conservative and religious blogs.

    The bill pending before the House would require “end-of-life” counseling for senior citizens, she said in a recent interview on the Fred Thompson radio show in which the health care scholar and former New York lieutenant governor warned people to “protect” their parents from the plan. [The Washington Times, 7/28/09]

    Fox's Johnson: Provision “Is Kind Of Our 2009 Brave New World, Soylent Green, 1984, Aldous Huxley Kind Of World.” Johnson said on the July 28, 2009 edition of Fox & Friends:

    Advanced care planning consultation is kind of our 2009 Brave New World, Soylent Green, 1984, Aldous Huxley kind of world where you come in and see a doctor at age 65, and if you're chronically ill you come in every year, and your doctor who will be trained -- and they will spend billions of dollars on training doctors to be counselors -- that you have options. You don't have to go into a hospital." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/28/09]

    McCaughey Backpedaled On Claim When Confronted By Criticism

    McCaughey Walks Back Her Claim In A Politico Article. From a July 28, 2009, Politico article:

    Asked to respond to the criticism of her statements, McCaughey told POLITICO she stands by her interpretation that the consultations are mandatory.

    “In so many words, it is -- because although it is presented in the bill as a Medicare service, when a doctor or a nurse approaches an elderly person who is in poor health, facing a decline in health, and raises these issues, it is not offering a service. It is pressuring them,” McCaughey said Monday. “I would not want that to occur when I am not at my parents' bedside.” [Politico, 7/28/09]

    Media Echo Chamber Pushes On With Falsehood

    York: According To The Bill, “There Will Be Consultation” On “End-Of-Life Issues.” On July 28, 2009, edition of Special Report, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York falsely claimed that a provision in a House health reform bill “says that there will be consultation between a caregiver and a patient to discuss things like hospice care and other issues -- other end-of-life issues,” which he claimed raised the question of “whether there's any coercive element to this.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 7/28/09]

    Washington Post Promoted Falsehood. In a July 29, 2009, Washington Post article about President Obama's AARP forum on health care, Ceci Connolly wrote about “rumors” that “that under the proposed legislation, every American over age 65 would be visited by a government worker and ”told to decide how they wish to die but did not state that the “rumors” are untrue:

    Polls show that senior citizens are more skeptical about health-care reform than any other age group.

    One woman asked Obama about “rumors” that under the proposed legislation, every American over age 65 would be visited by a government worker and “told to decide how they wish to die.”

    First, Obama joked that there aren't enough government workers to undertake such a task. Then he got serious and personal, mentioning that his grandmother, who died shortly before Election Day last year, had a medical directive.

    “It gave her some control ahead of time so that she could say, for example, if she had a terminal illness, did she want extraordinary measures even if, for example, her brainwaves were no longer functioning? Or did she want just to be left alone?” he said. “You know, that gives her some decision-making power over the process.” [The Washington Post, 7/29/09]

    Hannity: “I Don't Want Somebody At The End Of My Life From Some Bureaucrat Counseling Me About Whether Or Not I Need Antibiotics.” On the July 30, 2009, edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said:

    And I think on top of it, then we get all the things that happen in the single payer system in Canada and Great Britain, and we have rationed care. The end of life counseling. I don't want somebody at the end of my life from some bureaucrat counseling me about whether or not I need antibiotics. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/30/09, via Nexis]

    Buchanan: “Now We're Hearing All This Stuff About People At The End Of Their Life Are Gonna Get Visited By Some Guy.” On the July 31, 2009, edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan said:

    We've been talking about the other side now, which is the apprehension and fear on the part of people who've got good health insurance and would like to have other folks taken care of, but they say wait a minute, we're gonna get taxed, and now we're hearing all this stuff about people at the end of their life are gonna get visited by some guy. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 7/31/09]

    Sarah Palin Amps Up The Falsehood By Introducing The Death Panel Myth

    Palin: Under Democratic Health Care Reform, "[M]y Baby With Down Syndrome Will Have To Stand In Front Of Obama's 'Death Panel.'" In an August 7, 2009, Facebook posting, Palin said:

    The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

    Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion. [Sarah Palin Facebook post, 8/7/09]

    Palin's Spokeswoman: Death Panels Referred To The “Advance Care Planning Consultation” Provision. On his blog, ABC's Jake Tapper reported:

    Asked specifically what the former governor was referring to when painting a picture of an Obama “death panel” giving her parents or son Trig a thumbs up or down based on their productivity, Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton responded in an email: “From HR3200 p. 425 see 'Advance Care Planning Consultation'.” [Political Punch, 8/7/09]

    Fox News Personalities Quickly Adopt “Death Panel” Claim

    Malkin: “What Death Panels? Oh, Yeah, Those Death Panels.” On August 9, 2009, conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote on her website:

    Sarah Palin's warning about the effects of Obamacare on the elderly and infirm have been met with derision and ridicule. William Jacobson has a good round-up. Meanwhile, the effects of socialized medicine in Britain -- engineered by government-run cost-cutting panels on which Obamacare would be modeled -- continue to wreak havoc on the elderly and infirm.


    Malkin concluded, “Death panels? What death panels? Oh, yeah, those death panels.” [MichelleMalkin.com, 8/9/09]

    Kilmeade Adopts Palin's “Death Panel” Terminology To Advance End-Of-Life Care Myth. On the August 10, 2009 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said:

    [E]veryone's talking about seniors, and they're talking about the middle class and affordable health care. If the upper class is paying for the next two classes, and are seniors going to be in front of the death panel? And then just as you think, OK, that's ridiculous, then you realize there's provisions in there that seniors in the last lap of their life will be sitting there going to a panel possibly discussing what the best thing for them is. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/10/09]

    Beck On Palin's “Death Panel” Claim: “I Believe It To Be True.” On the August 10, 2009 edition of his radio show, Fox host Glenn Beck stated:

    GLENN BECK: So, why is there no more discussion than there is on Sarah Palin and what she said over the weekend that there would be a death - what did she call it, a death squad, a death--

    PAT GRAY: A death panel--

    BECK: A death panel for her son Trig. That's quite a statement. I believe it to be true, but that's quite a statement. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 8/10/09]

    Napolitano: Palin's Claim “A Legitimate Concern From A Fair Reading Of This Bill.” On his Fox News Radio show, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said:

    NAPOLITANO: I mean, at first, I thought that Governor Palin was a little over the top over the weekend when she put on her Facebook the potential for panels of health care professionals from the government to talk to you about suicide and euthanasia. But if you read segments of this bill, the language is so loose, it allows the Department of Health and Human Services to set up panels of experts to advise doctors and patients on various things.

    Think about it. If it's federal money, the federal government can say, we're not gonna give Grandma a new knee, or Grandma a new kidney. We're just gonna give her painkillers. We're gonna save that money for that knee or that kidney for somebody who's 25 instead of somebody who's 85. That is power that Americans have never conferred on the government. That was Governor Palin's concern, and that is a legitimate concern from a fair reading of this bill, which most members of Congress have not done. [Fox News Radio, Brian & The Judge, 8/10/09]

    Palin's Claim Gets “Pants On Fire” Status From PolitFact. On August 10, 2009, Politifact rated Palin's claim that Obama's heatlh care bill included a “death panel”:

    We have read all 1,000-plus pages of the Democratic bill and examined versions in various committees. There is no panel in any version of the health care bills in Congress that judges a person's “level of productivity in society” to determine whether they are “worthy” of health care.

    Palin's claim sounds a little like another statement making the rounds, which says that health care reform would mandate counseling for seniors on how to end their lives sooner. We rated this claim Pants on Fire ! The truth is that the health bill allows Medicare, for the first time, to pay for doctors' appointments for patients to discuss living wills and other end-of-life issues with their physicians. These types of appointments are completely optional, and AARP supports the measure. [PolitiFact, 8/10/09]

    Fox News Revive Discredited “Death Panels” Lie To Attack VA

    Former Bush Aide Falsely Clams VA End-Of-Life Planning Document “Steer[s] Vulnerable Individuals To Conclude ... That Life Is Not Worth Living.” In a Wall Street Journal column, former Bush administration aide Jim Towey wrote:

    Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, “Your Life, Your Choices.” It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated “Your Life, Your Choices.”


    When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel? [The Wall Street Journal, 8/18/09]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Chris Wallace's “Fact Check” On VHA Handbook Does Not Address Towey's Falsehoods. On the August 30, 2009 edition of Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace spoke with Tammy Duckworth of the VA:

    WALLACE: It was an explosive interview on an explosive subject. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, defending use of the document “Your Life, Your Choices.” But the interview raised almost as many questions as it answered. So this week we did a fact check on the controversy. First, whether what critics call the death book is actually being used.

    DUCKWORTH: It will be out in 2010. It's not yet out. So it totally was not correct by saying --

    WALLACE: Secretary Duckworth, that's just not true.

    WALLACE: We checked again this week and Secretary Duckworth is wrong. On July 2, the Veterans Health Administration reinstated the work workbook for veterans, called “Your Life, Your Choices,” and urged health care practitioners to use it. Here's why it's so controversial. Page 21 is a worksheet in which veterans are asked to assess whether in certain situations life would be difficult but acceptable; worth living, but just barely; or not worth living. Situations like “I can no longer walk but get around in a wheelchair,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family,” and “I cannot seem to 'shake the blues,' ” which raises the question: How much is the VA pushing “Your Life, Your Choices”?

    DUCKWORTH: Let me make a correction there, Chris. What our practitioners were told was to refer patients to any type of a tool.

    WALLACE: Duckworth is both right and wrong. In the VHA handbook, they do tell doctors to provide written materials such as Appendix C, and at another point, other published resources. But the VHA handbook specifically mentions only one document, “Your Life, Your Choices.” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 8/30/09]

    Kelly, Goldberg Connect VHA Booklet To “Death Panels” Smear. From the August 24, 2009, edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

    MEGYN KELLY (Host): Well, just as the White House says that people's fear about so-called “death panels” is baseless, critics now claim the administration is actually pressuring certain disabled veterans to, quote, “hurry up and die” -- that's the accusation. Asking physicians at the nation's VA hospitals to refer our nation's veterans to a pamphlet called “Your Life, Your Choices.”

    Title sounds innocuous enough. However, inside, this booklet asks veterans to decide whether their lives are worth living if they are, for example, in a wheelchair, in a nursing home, or if they have become, quote, “a financial burden to their families.”


    JONAH GOLDBERG: And I think, you know, the problem here is the defense that [Assistant Veterans Affairs Secretary Tammy] Duckworth offers, saying, “Oh, well, this wasn't put forward by the Obama administration.” She's sort of saying this sort of burbled up from the bureaucracy, which no one really disputes. That is not all that helpful. Because one of the points that critics of Obama's plan make is that this -- once you get the structure for it, it'll be on autopilot, and the bureaucracies will naturally tend towards exactly this kind of thing and death panels may, in fact, be not too far off on the horizon because of the very nature of how socialized medicine and rationing works. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/24/09]

    Conservative Media Resurrect Death Panel Lie To Claim That They Are Included In Merged House Bill

    Pelosi Releases Merged House Bill Combining Three Bills Passed By Committees. On October 29, 2009, Business Week reported:

    Congress moved another step closer to health care reform today, with the release by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) of a combined House bill that merged together key aspects of the three bills that had passed the House in the summer. The bill -- which came in at a whopping 1990 pages - contained a few significant changes, though no great surprises. Perhaps the most notable thing about it: even as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev)surprised Washington earlier in the week by announcing that the Senate bill would be more liberal than many expected, Pelosi has been forced to push the House bill in a more moderate direction. [Business Week, 10/29/09]

    AP: “It's Alive! End-Of-Life Counseling In Health Bill.” An October 29, 2009, AP article on the merged House bill referred to “death panels,” attributing the language to former Gov. Sarah Palin. From the article:

    The Medicare end-of-life planning provision that 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said was tantamount to “death panels” for seniors is staying in the latest Democratic health care bill unveiled Thursday.

    The legislation would allow Medicare to pay for a counseling session with a doctor or clinical professional once every five years. The bill calls for such sessions to be “completely” voluntary, and prohibits the encouragement or promotion of suicide or assisted suicide.

    The counseling provision is supported by doctors' groups and AARP, the seniors' lobby. [AP via FoxNews.com, 10/29/09]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Foxnews.com: " 'Death Panel' Measure Survives." An October 29, 2009, FoxNews.com article revived the “death panel” smear, linking to the above AP article on the House bill with the headline, " 'Death Panel' measure survives." [FoxNews.com, 10/29/09]

    Fox & Friends' Peter Johnson Jr.: “With Regard To The Death Panel, Has Anything Changed?” On the October 30, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Johnson asked Sen. John Cornyn:

    JOHNSON: With regard to the death panel, has anything changed?

    CORNYN: The 90 page bill that was just introduced yesterday on the--by Speaker Pelosi--I have to give her credit, at least she's had the courage to post it online so the American people and we in Congress can read it, as opposed to the Reid health care bill which was finished on Monday but has been behind closed doors and we haven't even seen it yet.

    JOHNSON: So with regard to the death panel, nothing much has changed.

    CORNYN: Well, we haven't been able to read the bill in its entirety yet, because it's 2000 pages long, so that's certainly something we'll be focusing on. The concern of course is trying to contain costs when the government runs health care, it invariably rations health care, and of course we don't want government intervening in the kind of decisions that ought to be made by family on behalf of their loved ones. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/30/09]

    Hannity: “The Death Panels Are Back.” From the October 30, 2009, edition of Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right, Nancy Pelosi got into the Halloween spirit yesterday when she unveiled this terrifying 1,900 page monstrosity known as the House Health Care Bill.

    Now, we have spent the last 24 hours analyzing this massive piece of legislation. And when it's all said and done, out of the nearly 2,000 pages that sit right here before me, only five matter. And on those pages, you have for example, government funded abortion. Remember, we had that debate earlier. People said, “No, that's not going to be a part of it.” We have government run health insurance. It's the government option. In the end, that's what is going to matter.

    We have, of course, as predicted, higher taxes. That means you'll be paying. Now, remember these death panels we spent so much time talking about? Well, guess what? The death panels are back. And then of course $500 billion, and I hope the elderly are watching, in Medicare cuts, $500 billion.

    So forget about this, the 1,990 page bill here. That's all smoke and mirrors. The five pages that matter are here. And those five pages are the only ones that Americans really need to read. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/30/09]

    Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com Runs Headline, “AP: 'Death Panels' In Health Care Bill.” On October 30, 2009, Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment ran the misleading headline, “AP: 'Death Panels' in Health Care Bill.” [Big Government, 10/30/09]

    Conservative Media Figures Link Nonbinding Mammogram Guidelines To “Death Panels”

    Time: U.S. Panel Recommends Delaying Regular Mammograms Until Age 50. In November 2009, Time reported:

    A U.S. government group recommends that women delay getting regular mammograms until age 50, instead of 40, the age at which the American Cancer Society (ACS) has long advised women to begin screening for breast cancer. The government group issued its new guidelines Monday, citing evidence that the benefits of regular screening do not justify the potential harms in younger women.

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task force (USPSTF), funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, published its recommendations in Annals of Internal Medicine; its decision was based on an analysis of existing trials that looked at the impact of mammography on breast-cancer deaths. The task force further recommended that women between ages 50 and 74 get screened every two years instead of annually, and that doctors no longer urge women to conduct monthly breast self-exams, since the practice does not appear to significantly reduce the risk of death from breast cancer. [Time, 11/17/09]

    NBC's Snyderman: “It's Important To Remember That These New Recommendations From This Independent Task Force Are Just That -- They're Recommendations.” In a Nightly News report on the task force recommendations, NBC chief medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman stated, “It's important to remember that these new recommendations from this independent task force are just that -- they're recommendations. They don't mandate any changes in who should get mammograms and when.” [NBC, Nightly News with Brian Williams, 11/17/09]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Beck Tied "So-Called Death Panels" To Task Force Recommendations. From the November 18, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck:

    BECK: Well, the healthcare reform debate continues. Some crazy skeptics still worried about potential rationing, so-called death panels - Sarah Palin.

    In a totally unrelated matter, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has seemingly done a 180 degree turn in the last six months. Six months ago, an alarm was sounded by this task force when a report came out noting a slight decline in annual mammograms among women in their 40s.

    In fact, the panel warned women in this age bracket that they could be risking their lives if they didn't get the annual preventive exam. But now, the same panel, which, by the way, doesn't include a single oncologist - why would you need one of those pesky people?

    The same people have said basically - yes, I know. They are now recommending that women wait until they turn 50 to begin routine mammogram screening. Apparently, their new concern is that the risk of getting a false positive from mammography - you know, it has to be so stressful, and it could prompt unnecessary treatment.

    Wow. I have been trying to weigh the two. You know, weigh the stress of a false positive against, I don't know, not finding a lump in time and then dying. Which one?

    You know, once you gone, I will tell you, as I have been thinking this through, once you do die from the lump you didn't because you didn't do a test, it does tend to cut down on your stress level.

    And good news for the government, it is cutting down on the expense of these pesky people. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 11/18/09]

    Limbaugh: “You Might Even Say That We've Got Death Panels Going On Here.” During the November 18 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh discussed the recommendations and stated, “You might even say that we've got death panels going on here.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/18/09]

    Hannity Invoked “Death Panels” While Stoking Fears Over The Mammogram Recommendation. On his November 18 radio show, Hannity continued to fearmonger over the task force recommendations, stating: “Is this a death panel, ladies and gentlemen? I mean for women that don't get mammograms. What does that mean? That means we're not going to have the early detection.” [ABC Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/18/09]

    Palin: Mammogram Recommendation Illustrates The “Problem About The Panels, The Death Panels Of Government Bureaucrats.” From the November 19, 2009, edition of The Laura Ingraham Show:

    LAURA INGRAHAM: What's your take?

    SARAH PALIN: I think that you have been brilliant on this, because the mammogram recommendation -- this whole issue is demonstrating precisely what you've pointed out, the problem about the panels, the death panels of government bureaucrats, and I think you call it the hospice chuting, the -- but those panels of bureaucrats having more and more input into Americans' personal decisions, decisions, really, that belong between them and their doctors. And this is what rationed care is going to be about. [Talk Radio Network, The Laura Ingraham Show, 11/19/09]

    PolitiFact Names “Death Panels” Its 2009 “Lie Of The Year”

    From PolitiFact.com:

    Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

    “Death panels.”

    The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn't made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.

    Her assertion - that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care - spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really?”

    The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times, have chosen it as our inaugural “Lie of the Year.”

    PolitiFact readers overwhelmingly supported the decision. Nearly 5,000 voted in a national poll to name the biggest lie, and 61 percent chose “death panels” from a field of eight finalists. [PolitiFact.com, PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: “Death Panels,” 12/18/09]

    Palin Revives Death Panel Myth To Ask If They Are “Back In” Senate Health Care Bill

    Senate Debates Health Care Bill. In late December 2009, The New York Times reported:

    After a long day of acid, partisan debate, Senate Democrats held ranks early Monday in a dead-of-night procedural vote that proved they had locked in the decisive margin needed to pass a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's health care system.

    The roll was called shortly after 1 a.m., with Washington still snowbound after a weekend blizzard, and the Senate voted on party lines to cut off a Republican filibuster of a package of changes to the health care bill by the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.

    The vote was 60 to 40 -- a tally that is expected to be repeated four times as further procedural hurdles are cleared in the days ahead, and then once more in a dramatic, if predictable, finale tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve. [The New York Times, 12/21/09]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Palin: Are “Death Panels Back In”? From a December 22, 2009, post on Sarah Palin's Twitter feed:

    palin tweet

    [Sarah Palin's Twitter feed, 12/22/09]

    Conservative Media Revive “Death Panels” Yet Again With New, False Target: The Independent Medicare Advisory Board

    Senate Bill Included An Independent Medicare Advisory Board “To Reduce The Growth Rate Of Spending In The Program.” In November 2009, Bloomberg reported:

    MEDICARE COMMISSION: The Senate bill would create an Independent Medicare Advisory Board to reduce the growth rate of spending in the program. The chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would set a target growth rate for each year. If Medicare cost growth exceeded that target, the board would have to propose steps to scale back the increase.

    The health secretary would be required to implement the proposals unless Congress passed legislation that would reduce growth to the target rate. [Bloomberg, 11/20/09]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Weekly Standard: “Paging Sarah Palin: The Death Panel Is Unkillable.” In a December 21, 2009, Weekly Standard blog post, John McCormack wrote:

    Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight. First, he noted that there are a number of changes to Senate rules in the bill--and it's supposed to take a 2/3 vote to change the rules. And then he pointed out that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses[.]


    For any fearmongers out there tempted to call an unelected body that recommends Medicare cuts a “Death Panel,” let me be clear. According to page 1004, IMAB proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care”--you know, just like the bill says there's no funding for abortion.

    Paging Sarah Palin: the death panel is unkillable. [The Weekly Standard, 12/21/09]

    Fox Nation: “Reid Bill: Future Congresses Cannot Repeal 'Death Panel.' ” On December 22, 2009, the Fox Nation linked to McCormack's Weekly Standard post with the headline: “Reid Bill: Future Congresses Cannot Repeal 'Death Panel.' ” From the Fox Nation:

    fox nation

    [Fox Nation, accessed 12/23/09]

    Palin Calls Medicare Advisory Board A “Rationing 'Death Panel.' ” In a December 22, 2009, Facebook post titled “Midnight Votes, Backroom Deals, and a Death Panel,” Palin asserted that the advisory board “is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients -- also known as rationing.” She added that “Democrats are protecting this rationing 'death panel' from future change with a procedural hurdle” and wrote:

    Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call “death panels” the “lie of the year,” this type of rationing - what the CBO calls “reduc[ed] access to care” and “diminish[ed] quality of care” - is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor. [Sarah Palin's Facebook account, 12/22/09]

    Morris: Medicare Advisory Board “Is Really The Death Panel That Sarah Palin Was Talking About.” From the December 23, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

    MORRIS: They're going to vote against it or for it, that's right. The Medicare Advisory Board you speak about is a particularly dangerous thing, because it's going to set up for Medicare only, for the elderly only, protocols and standards of care where they are going to be saying no, you can't give this person a hip replacement, they are too old, and no, you can't treat this person with colon cancer with the best drug available. I know it increases the chance of his dying, but it's beyond the cost parameters that we are prepared to allow. And this will be done by this federal board, which is really the death panel that Sarah Palin was talking about. That's an oversimplification, but the basic concept isn't far wrong. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/23/09]

    Despite Debunking And “Lie Of The Year” Designation, Conservative Media Figures Continued To Push Death Panel Myth In 2010

    Palin: “I Do” Stand By My Comments On Death Panels. On the January 14, 2010, edition of Hannity, Palin stood by her claim that health care reform included death panels:

    HANNITY: Now one of the things, you're amazed at how the amount of impact your Facebook comments have had in the political discourse and debate, because every time you write something it goes out over the wires, you've noticed that?

    PALIN: Well, they're usually pretty simple messages that I'm posting there on Facebook.

    HANNITY: When you're talking about health care, you know, you said those death panels, which created a big controversy and you're adding new words to the American vocabulary here. You stand by those comments because you think it still exists in the bill?

    PALIN: I do. It's a commission. It's a bureaucracy. It's bureaucrats who will ration care if the bill goes through as Obama wants it to go through. Yes, it's modeled in essence after a British system that does have people to decide whether, based on your quality of life, your age, whether you're going to deserve health care coverage or not.

    That's what's going to happen in America if this health care bill isn't stopped. And it needs to be stopped soon and that's why the people of this land can't give up in demanding that their voice be heard.

    Demanding that the White House understand that this is a representative form of government. We do expect that the will of the people is listened to and adhered to and implemented via our representatives whom we elect. [Fox News, Hannity, 1/14/10]

    Limbaugh: If “You Think That There Aren't Death Panels--Think Again.” On the February 26, 2010, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh, cautioned his listeners, “You think that there aren't death panels. Think again.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/26/10]

    Limbaugh: “The Senate Bill Does Have Death Panels In It.” On the March 19, 2010, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh stated:

    We happen to have read it. The Senate bill does have death panels in it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/19/10]

    Right-Wing Media Seized on Orszag Comment To Claim That Health Care Law Contains Death Panels

    Orszag Commented On Medicare Payment Advisory Board. From comments made by Orszag at The Economic Club of Washington:

    DR. ORSZAG: Final point - I've spent a lot of time in discussions at Brookings and at CBO and what have you with what I will call the traditional budget school types, and I am a proud member of that group. But I would say that if all we did was address in a traditional way banging down on provider payments, adjusting revenue, adjusting traditional spending categories, if that's all we did to address the medium term-deficit, we would still face a massive long-term problem. And the only real solution to our long-term fiscal imbalance, because it's driven disproportionately by the rate at which healthcare costs grow, is to move towards a healthcare system that's based on quality and efficiency rather than quantity.

    I don't mean to be giving such a long answer, but just to pause on that for a second, I think to a degree that is not yet fully appreciated. We have now put in place the levers or the infrastructure to move towards paying for quality over time. Everyone agrees that we can no longer afford to just pay for quantity - that is a fee for service system where doctors and hospitals are reimbursed based on volume. We need to pay for quality. But I would challenge everyone in this room, since I have spent years and years studying this, to tell me precisely how we should pay for quality, exactly what should bonus payments be for high-performing doctors, exactly what should the penalty be for hospitals that have high readmission rates, exactly what condition should be covered by bundled payments, exactly how should accountable care organizations work. There are lots of promising ideas, but the details are now yet known with enough precision to write them into law hardwired.


    MR. RUBENSTEIN: Let me ask you. The Commission that you mentioned, its proposals won't come back until after the election midterm, so it won't have any impact on that, but would you support or does anybody in the Administration support it? Would the President support a Commission whose recommendations would have to be approved, let's say, on a fast-track basis, up or down, by Congress? How would you actually get these recommendations implemented because, as you know, it's very difficult to get Congress to increase taxes and cut spending? How can you do it short of a base-closing type Commission, where its recommendations go into effect unless Congress overturns it?

    DR. ORSZAG: Well, let me just first pause and point out that's exactly what we just created for Medicare. So this Independent Payment Advisory Board has the power and the responsibility to put forward proposals to hit a pretty aggressive set of targets over the long term. And furthermore, the proposals take effect automatically, unless Congress not only specifically votes them down but the President signs that bill. So the default is now switched in a very important way on the biggest driver over long-term cost, which is the Medicare program.

    MR. RUBENSTEIN: Was that explained to Members of Congress very carefully?

    DR. ORSZAG: Yes, it was and that's why this was something that was very difficult to actually - this is why I think it was underappreciated, that this is a very substantial change. Again, a lot will depend on whether it realizes its potential, and how the culture develops, but it has statutory power to put forward proposals to reduce healthcare cost growth overtime and improve quality, and those proposals take effect automatically if Congress ignores them, or if Congress votes them down and the President vetoes that bill. So in other words, inertia now plays to the side of this independent board. [OMB Chief Orszag on Budgets and Their Discontents, 4/8/10]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Hoft: “Sarah Palin Was Right.” On April 26, 2010, conservative blogger Jim Hoft posted video of Orszag and stated:

    Sarah Palin was right.
    Barack Obama's nationalized health care bill includes powerful health care rationing “death panels.”

    Obama Budget Director Peter Orszag admitted earlier this month that:
    A Powerful Rationing Panel (Not Doctors) Will Control Health Care Levels [Gateway Pundit, 4/26/10]

    Beck: Orszag Acknowledged There Were Death Panels. From the April 27, 2010, edition of Glenn Beck:

    BECK: Earlier this month, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag admitted that the independent payment advisory board with health care would decide on quality over quantity rationing care. Watch.


    PETER ORSZAG, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: The only real solution to our long-term fiscal imbalance, because it is driven disproportionately by the rate at which healthcare cost grow, is move toward a healthcare system that's based on quality and efficiency rather than quantity.


    BECK: Rather than quantity. No, nothing like ration. Silly to even think that that is what he is talking about - rationing. No, no, no. Just less quantity. That's it. You know, he didn't actually spell it out - “death panel.” So you can't call it that.

    Where is the press? Is anyone interested in the truth and what they're doing with your money? Anybody? Yesterday, I showed you this. I've got more on this. Why isn't that on the front page of every paper? I don't know. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/27/10]

    Right-Wing Media Figures Cited Ineffective Drug Avastin As Evidence Of Death Panels

    Washington Post: FDA Considers Revoking Approval Of Avastin For Advanced Breast Cancer. In August 2010, The Washington Post reported:

    Federal regulators are considering taking the highly unusual step of rescinding approval of a drug that patients with advanced breast cancer turn to as a last-ditch hope.


    The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the recommendation of influential scientific advisers to revoke authorization of the drug to treat metastatic breast cancer. Contrary to initial research, new studies indicate that the benefits of the drug, which costs $8,000 a month, do not outweigh its risks, the advisory panel concluded.

    Citing a dearth of evidence of the drug's effectiveness, its potential toxic side effects, and its high cost, many cancer experts, patient advocates and others are welcoming the prospect that Avastin's authorization for breast cancer might be repealed. But the possibility is alarming other cancer specialists, women taking the drug, some members of Congress and advocates for giving patients as much access to as many treatments as possible. [The Washington Post, 8/16/10]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Beck: “Your First Death Panel Is Here.” From the August 17, 2010, edition of Glenn Beck:

    BECK: No panel. It's - no panel. It's a lie. Ridiculous conspiracy. Except your first death panel is here, “Federal regulators are considering taking the highly unusual step of rescinding approval of a drug that patients with advanced breast cancer turn to as a last-ditch hope.”

    What do the president and the vice president have to say now? Malarkey - there is no panel. And the propagandists over at MSNBC - oh, they're having a good chortle over this one, I'm sure.

    See, it's not that they'd ever be called death panels or anything like that. The point has always been with this new system - it's based on money. It's possibly happening now exactly the way we said it would happen - malarkey. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 8/17/10]

    Limbaugh Invokes “Death Panels” In Discussing Possible Rescinding Of Approval For Avastin. From the September 24, 2010, edition of Limbaugh's radio show:

    Obamacare doesn't want to cover it. The death panels, in other words. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/24/10]

    Right-Wing Media Kicked Off 2011 By Dusting Off “Death Panel” Lie

    Medicare Regulation Offers Medicare Recipients Voluntary End-Of-Life Planning. In December 2010, The New York Times reported:

    Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.


    The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit. [The New York Times, 12/25/10]

    Get the facts HERE.

    Knight: “The Dreaded 'Death Panels' Are Back.” Robert Knight wrote in a January 2, 2011, Washington Times op-ed:

    Finally, the dreaded “death panels” are back. Recall that on Christmas Eve 2009, Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's U.S. Senate rammed through the national health care system takeover. They ignored public opposition and mocked the idea that federal bureaucrats would institute end-of-life counseling. But, in deference to the public's growing alarm, they took out Section 1233.

    It was a bait-and-switch. A year later, on Christmas Day 2010, the New York Times broke the story that Donald Berwick, Mr. Obama's unvetted czar who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, issued a rule to pay doctors for end-of-life counseling. That was the essence of Section 1233. The Times acknowledged that the counseling “may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.” Exactly. [Washington Times, 1/2/11]

    Newsmax: “Obama Embraces 'Death Panel' Concept In Medicare Rule.” A December 26, 2010 Newsmax article titled, “Obama Embraces 'Death Panel' Concept in Medicare Rule,” claimed:

    During the stormy debate over his healthcare plan, President Barack Obama promised his program would not “pull the plug on grandma,” and Congress dropped plans for death panels and “end of life” counseling that would encourage aged patients from partaking in costly medical procedures.

    Opponents of Obama's plan, including former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, dubbed such efforts as “death panels” that would encourage euthanasia.

    But on Dec. 3, the Obama administration seemingly flouted the will of Congress by issuing a new Medicare regulation detailing “voluntary advance care planning” that is to be included during patients' annual checkups. The regulation aimed at the aged “may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment,” The New York Times reported. [Newsmax, 12/26/10]

    Carlson: "[T]he Government Will Now Pay Doctors To Counsel Patients To Opt Out Of Medical Treatment That Might Prolong Their Lives." On Hannity, guest host Tucker Carlson introduced a debate on end-of-life counseling by saying “Remember those infamous death panels? ... According to The New York Times, this new regulation may provide Americans, quote, 'advanced directives to forego aggressive life-sustaining treatment.' In other words, the government will now pay doctors to counsel patients to opt out of medical treatment that might prolong their lives.” [Fox News, Hannity, 12/26/10]

    Perino: “If You Thought The Death Panel Debate Was Dead, Think Again.” On the December 27, 2010, edition of Fox News' On The Record, guest host Dana Perino teased a segment on end-of-life counseling by claiming: “If you thought the death panel debate was dead, think again. It's heating up, and you have to stick around to find out what's in store for end-of-life planning, starting this Saturday.” Perino later introduced the segment by asking, “Are the so-called death panels revived?” [Fox News, On The Record with Great Van Susteren, 12/27/10]

    Big Government: “Obama Administration Bypassing Congress to Institute Death Panel 'Discussions.'” In a Big Government post, Seton Motley reported on the CMS regulations by claiming CMS director Donald Berwick “is jamming through his dreamed-of doctor death discussions -- which are almost inarguably the first step towards death panels of our very own.” [BigGovernment.com, 12/29/10]

    Napolitano: There Are Now Death Panels That Will “Tell Grandma and Grandpa ... How And When To Die.” From the January 3, 2011, edition of Glenn Beck:

    NAPOLITANO: Happy New Year, America. Welcome to 2011. Let's go back for a moment to Christmas Eve 2009. That's when the House of Representatives passed the Health Care Reform Act. It pointedly did not include the so-called death panels.

    You remember them. They're groups of health care professionals whom the federal government would pay to tell grandma and grandpa, which will someday be all of us, how and when to die.

    Remember that debate? The President and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi first argued that there were no death panels in the bill. Then, many Democrats heard from many of their constituents, and the language in the bill that would have established the death panels was removed. And then, the bill passed the House and became law without the death panels.

    Fast forward to Christmas Eve 2010, just two and half weeks ago, and those death panels are back. Now, how did that happen? Glenn Beck and I have been warning about this since the shellacking the Democrats took in the November midterm elections, when the president lost his majority in the House and his ability to stop filibusters in the Senate.

    We warned then that without control of Congress, the president would rule by decree, and that's just what he has done. On a festive holiday weekend, when everyone else's mind was elsewhere, the president's Director of Medicare and Medicaid, Dr. Donald Berwick -- you remember him. He's an open proponent of British style of universal health care with rationing of medical services decreed by bureaucrats.

    He is the socialist who wants to decide who lives and who dies. He announced that he had created the death panels pursuant to authority in the new law even though the Congress had objected to them, had rejected them.

    The Obama administration has now established them. You know what, grandma? It is going to cost the government too much money to keep you alive. So here are your alternatives. Is that the government guaranteeing the right to life? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 1/3/11]