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.