In recent weeks, conservatives have been attacking a small provision in the House-proposed health care legislation that would allow Medicare to cover advanced care consulting. The Republican National Committee sent out a research document claiming the House legislation is encouraging euthanasia. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said it was placing “seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.” Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin picked up this meme on Friday and took it further in a statement she posted on her Facebook page:
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.
These claims are complete lies. The House bill would simply give seniors the option of speaking with an expert about advanced care issues, such as living wills. As FactCheck.org explains, “[I]t requires Medicare to cover counseling sessions for seniors who want to consider their end-of-life choices — including whether they want to refuse or, conversely, require certain types of care.”
“This measure would not only help people make the best decisions for themselves but also better ensure that their wishes are followed,” responded AARP Executive Vice President John Rother. “To suggest otherwise is a gross, and even cruel, distortion.”
On Friday, HBO host Bill Maher questioned Republican Reps. Darryl Issa (CA) and Jack Kingston (GA) about Palin’s “death panel” statement. “It’s a scare tactic, no question about it,” said Kingston, who added that there are no death panels. Issa ignored the question and tried to change the topic. Watch it (around 20:30):
Guests on today’s Sunday talk shows were also largely incredulous at Palin’s statement. “About euthanasia, they’re just totally erroneous. She just made that up,” said former governor Howard Dean. “Just like the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ that she supposedly didn’t support.” On NBC’s Meet the Press, conservative columnist David Brooks said it was “crazy.” On CNN, reporters said it showed how Palin has trouble discussing substantive issues:
JESSICA YELLIN: No, and that’s a low blow. That’s not an accurate assessment of what this panel is, but it definitely will get her attention.
DAN BALZ: Jessica is right, it does get attention. It’s not the way to debate this bill, and it’s another example of Sarah Palin having difficulty figuring out how to enter into a serious debate about issues.
ED HENRY: Yes, and people are being whipped up on that issue right now and they think that essentially euthanasia is going to be allowed based on this health bill. Obviously it just doesn’t pass the Joe Six-pack test, I think even Sarah Palin would acknowledge.
The one person who did defend Palin today: Newt Gingrich.