Palin Stands By 'Death Panel' Claim

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin refused to retreat from her debunked claim that a proposed health care overhaul would create "death panels," as the growing furor over end-of-life consultations forced a key group of senators to abandon the idea in their bill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, one of six lawmakers negotiating on a Senate bill, said Thursday they had dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration "entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly."

In a Facebook posting called "Troubling Questions Remain About Obama's Health Care Plan," Palin said that "it's gratifying that the voice of the people is getting through to Congress; however, that provision was not the only disturbing detail in this legislation; it was just one of the more obvious ones."

In an earlier Facebook posting, Palin argued that the elderly and ailing would be coerced into accepting minimal end-of-life care to reduce health care costs based on the Democratic bill in the House.

But there will be no "death panels" under the legislation being considered. In fact, the provision in the bill would allow Medicare to pay doctors for voluntary counseling sessions that address end-of-life issues. The conversations between doctor and patient would include living wills, making a close relative or a trusted friend your health care proxy, learning about hospice as an option for the terminally ill, and information about pain medications for people suffering chronic discomfort.

The sessions would be covered every five years, more frequently if someone is gravely ill.

The American Medical Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization support the provision.

In a Wednesday posting, Palin wrote: "With all due respect, it's misleading for the president to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients." She added, "It's all just more evidence that the Democratic legislative proposals will lead to health care rationing."

The issue is no longer viable for the six members of the Senate Finance Committee — three Republicans and three Democrats — working on a bipartisan bill, according to Grassley. In a statement, he criticized the House bill, saying there was a difference between a "simple education campaign, as some advocates want," and paying "physicians to advise patients about end-of-life care."

The provisions remain in the House bill.

Palin's posting came one day after Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said that Palin and other critics were not helping the GOP by tossing out false claims. Portions of the Democratic health care bills "are bad enough that we don't need to be making things up," Murkowski said, invoking a phrase that Palin used in her resignation speech, when she asked the news media to "quit making things up."

Murkowski said she was offended at the "death panel" terminology. "There is no reason to gin up fear in the American public by saying things that are not included in the bill," she said.

Palin hasn't always been against end-of-life counseling. As Alaska governor, she signed a proclamation making April 16, 2008, Healthcare Decision Day with the goal to have health care professionals and others participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information about advance directives.

The proclamation noted that only about 20 percent of Alaskans, and 50 percent of severely or terminally ill patients, have an advance directive. "It is likely that a significant reason for these low percentages is that there is both a lack of knowledge and considerable confusion in the public about advance directives," it said.

Palin said Thursday that comparing that proclamation to Congress's end-of-life provision is "ridiculous."

"The two are like apples and oranges," she said. "The attempt to link the two shows how desperate the proponents of nationalized health care are to shift the debate away from the disturbing details of their bill."

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican who co-sponsored a similar measure in the Senate, said it was "nuts" to claim the bill encourages euthanasia.

And Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who authored the provision on end-of-life counseling, said he is astounded that Palin has not tempered her bleak descriptions of the health care bill.

"It's deliberate at this point," Blumenauer said. "If she wasn't deliberately lying at the beginning, she is deliberately allowing a terrible falsehood to be spread with her name."

He said the measure would block funds for counseling that presents suicide or assisted suicide as an option, calling references to death panels or euthanasia "mind-numbing."

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  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Aug 15, 2009 at 06:14 AM
    Barlow, I would encourage you to shop around for insurance. I know of nobody, nobody ever, that was denied life support. I know of no insurance company that would deny to pay for life support. As I remind you once again, I am a democrat, not a republican, so don't lay that rap on me bro. You are liberal and I am moderate, just like the elderly that vote who is president. I didn't vote for a liberal socialist marxist dictator like yourself. Sorry, as I told you, I read his book and researched on the net. I didn't blindly follow the party or liberal webs sites. I vote the man and not the party. As I have mentioned before, I am ashamed of the way the party went after Palin and "her family". That was off limits. It would be no different than going after Obamas family. You notice they didn't? That is the side of the party and media I want nothing to do with. To "destroy" a politician for running against your guy? Thats just low.
  • by Mike L. Location: Simpson on Aug 14, 2009 at 02:01 PM
    I'm a dedicated Republican. This woman- Palin- embarasses me greatly! Get real fellow GOP'ers. She has the intellectual ability of a mediocre 9th grader. You can't wish a Reagan out of a simpleton. This will end badly for us.
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Aug 14, 2009 at 01:51 PM
    Snake Oil: I know it was removed from the current bill, what I posted was the same provision that the Republicans had in their 2003 bill. Like I said, it seems like a better idea when they have it. And you're right you don't need the government to determine who will live or die, we have the insurance companies for that. They make a "good living" at it too.
  • by Get Real Location: Eastern NC on Aug 14, 2009 at 01:14 PM
    To CCC: The only "evil" this country has seen in a long time, we voted their rear ends out of office in November 2008 in case you didn't forget. The true evil is what ran this country for 8 years lest you forget the mess that same evil left us in. My my my, you people pick and chose what you want to remember or educate yourselves on. The true evil got sent back to where it belongs....
  • by Belle Location: Winterville on Aug 14, 2009 at 12:31 PM
    Neither, Snake Oil. I prefer the individual and their loved ones to make up their mind if they want end-of-life counseling. That is what the bill provides-nothing mandatory. If the patient chooses, Medicare will cover this. I'm still wondering what CCC's objection to this is.
  • by Concerned Location: Greenville, N. C. on Aug 14, 2009 at 12:21 PM
    To the republicans who keeps calling Obama socialist. A socialist is a person who socializes. Since the republicans wants to be the only people in control, why don't you all just move to Mars and start your own country. I'm sure you all will be welcome.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Aug 14, 2009 at 12:04 PM
    Belle, who do you want to tell you its the end of life, the government or a doctor? Back up there Barlow, I posted the API press release here but Witn didn't post it. It says it has been "removed" from the bill now. So, something you said wasn't there, said it wasn't there and the media said it wasn't there, was removed? So, when they lie to you, do you believe everything they say or do you search for facts supporting both sides? I say you see only one side and run with it everyday. So, go see Lavon, he has some black cherry koolaide made.
  • by CCC Location: Greenville on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:54 AM
    Doctor/patient end of life consultations are not a problem w/ me. Politician appointed representative/patient consultations ARE. Its NONE of their business. That's a problem w/ me. The fact that obama wanted to ram this thru so quickly withoput giving anyone a chance to read it is also a MAJOR problem. The fact that very few people can understand the language is a very big problem. I'll be honest and say I read some of it but I just don't speak or understand attorney garbage. The fact that obama clearly stated he would like to see employer health care gone within 10-20 years is a very big problem. Especially now since all his dem buddies are saying "obama does not support single payer". Out right lie. "AARP is on board with us"; another out right lie by obama. And you folks want us to believe what he says? He cares about seniors? Bull!! Why then is he planning to take millions from medicare to help pay for this piece of legislative crap. In my book, obama IS evil.
  • by Paul Location: New Bern on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:48 AM
    Right on Get Real...You speaketh the truth!!
  • by Get Real Location: Eastern NC on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:37 AM
    Sarah Palin is a complete joke. Nothing she says is even remotely credible. This pure junk coming from her mouth is coming from the same mouth that couldnt answer basic economic questions, doesnt even know her own country that well outside her state, shoots animals from airplanes who can do nothing but run in fear.....The only reason there are so many of you backing what she says is because you have no other moronic Republican who is shouting that loud at the moment. Thank GOD she and McCain are NOT the leaders of this country. We would have already been at another war with Iran and God knows what else. I don't think anyone who can sit and think and read for at least an hour would find her credibility worth the time of day. She is a joke, period. She is no threat to the Democrats and never will be. We're just sick and tired of her running her useless trap. Find a new cause to suddenly "care" about the welfare of this country. Republicans didn't care for 8 years and we know it

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