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Obamacare “Death Panel” Lies Must Die

Obamacare “Death Panel” Lies Must Die

Anti – “Obamacare” Dirty Tricks With Deadly Consequences

Well, they’re back at it – those dirty tricksters who send bogus emails scaring the bejesus out of old folks with stories of government “death panels” supposedly authorized under “Obamacare” to deny Medicare patients coverage for life-saving tests and procedures.

Only now they’re calling them “ethics panels” – adding a new spin with a term that appears nowhere in the recently-confirmed Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) or in any Medicare regulation or other document.  In other words, they don’t exist.

Here’s what FactCheck.org – a respected project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania – has to say about these claims in their post entitled “Death Panels” Redux.

“The frightening claims in this email about losing control of one’s health care decisions have caused consternation among some of our readership — particularly the fear of losing all health care after age 75. But fear not, this email is bunkum…

“While this cock-and-bull story has spread well beyond its origin in Tennessee, there is no validity to the claims it makes and readers should feel free to purge it from their inboxes.”

“Cock-and-Bull” Scare-Mail

FactCheck.org has a balanced record of disproving unfounded claims by both the Romney and Obama campaigns, so their reporting on this is unlikely to be driven or influenced by partisan politics (unlike those sending these scare-mails).

It should also be noted that similar bogus horror stories are being circulated by opponents of  Obamacare with reputed locales in other states across America – often citing real hospitals and even quoting real doctors (who subsequently deny ever saying what they’re quoted as saying).

They make it sound very convincing, very real. It isn’t.

In short, “ethics panels” simply don’t exist – never have and never will, at least not under anything currently authorized by Obamacare. 

But that won’t stop the desperate ideologues behind these scare-mails from preying on the fears of the elderly.

You might be tempted to give them a pass, as many of the people who pass along these emails in chain-letter fashion actually believe this nonsense.

But those who originate them know better. They know there’s no such thing as “ethics panels” in Obamacare, but they spread this disinformation anyway because they know it’ll scare older people into voting against Obama out of misplaced fear based on this total fabrication. It’s a classic example of  the “Big Lie” – the fundamental tool of all propaganda – in action.

Shameless Grandstanding

Lies designed for political gain can have real human consequences that extend well beyond the ballot box.

We’ll never know how many elders are literally scared to death by this stuff, but it’s clear it perpetuates practices that actually harm them. One example is discussed inDeath-By-ICU: End-of-Life Care in America“. In that free report, I discuss how shameless grandstanding about “death panels” prevented the ACA from the perfectly rational – and long overdue – measure of paying doctors for taking the time to discuss end-of-life options with their dying patients and their families.

So instead of being able to make fully informed end-of-life choices, millions of Americans end up on life support in ICUs that they unanimously reject when given the benefit of advance information about what that kind of “living” actually entails.

This is as sad – and sadistic – an example as I can imagine of politics being both cruel and heartless. It’s one thing to gin up fears you know are baseless about political opponents; both parties do it all the time. It’s another thing altogether when you know these lies about Obamacare will cause those who believe them untold harm and even a more premature and painful death.

A Sadistic Charade

That’s the sick irony with this “Obamacare” charade. The victims here aren’t the hypothetical victims of imaginary “death panels” – or imaginary “ethics panels” – but the very real human beings, Americans all, who’ll suffer needlessly because of the falsehood about death panels that’s deprived them of much-needed end-of-life counseling – not by bureaucrats, but by their doctors.

And the pols and political talking heads who espouse this dangerous anti-Obamacare propaganda have neither the intellectual capacity nor the basic integrity to reject it as a step too far. Nothing is more imortant to these shrill supplicants – these untrue believers – than recapturing power. Nothing.

And the hapless souls who watch and listen to their breathless and dire forebodings become unwitting pawns in passing along their baseless propaganda – spreading it like the virus of hate that propels it.

It’s sad, pitiful, and despicable – all at the same time.

If you know an older American – or have an elder in your immediate or extended family – do them an immense favor and disabuse them of these lies.

They don’t need to be further burdened by baseless fears and anxiety that will only exacerbate whatever real medical conditions they may have.

And while you’re at it, readDeath-by-ICU” – it’s only 20-plus pages – and share the resource links in the report with those you know who may be facing these crucial choices in the near future.

You might also send them to this report of what Obamacare actually DOES provide for Medicare recipients. They’ll see that far from the bogus scare tactics, it’s got much by way of good news in it for them.

Help them to be proactive and not merely recoil in fear with every anti-Obamacare scare-mail they receive.

And make sure they know where the “Delete” button for their email is located.

Finally, if you or someone you know has been a victim of this dirty political trick, share your experience by commenting below.

This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only.
It does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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6 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Pawn
    August 26, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    Dear John,

    I liked what you said about “Only now they’re calling them ‘ethics panels’ – adding a new spin with a term that appears nowhere in the recently-confirmed Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) or in any Medicare regulation or other document. In other words, they don’t exist.”

    Continue these kind of articles because they are very good and useful. Congratulations.

  2. Gayle Gardner Lin
    October 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    While I’m not ecstatic about Obamacare, it’s better than nothing, especially for children with previous illnesses.

    I’m so glad you spoke out about that obnoxious email. I’m sharing it with everyone I know. I’ll be eager to read your book.

    • Gayle Gardner Lin
      October 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      I meant sharing this article of yours … not the fraudulent email.

      • John Lynch
        October 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

        Glad you clarified that…:-)

        Yes, I agree Obamacare doesn’t go far enough, fast enough to meet the crises we face in America’s healthcare system – and felt strongly enough about it to write a second book about it (see Obamacare button at top of page).

        But it’s at least an honest attempt to begin to address some of these problems rather than make them even worse as deregulating our healthcare would do if it’s repealed. And the tactics described in this post are, obviously, beneath contempt.

        Thanks for commenting – and sharing. People need to know this stuff is bogus.

  3. John C. Key MD
    July 18, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    Although I follow you and generally agree with your posts I don’t really understand the point of this one. Granted, the ACA language doesn’t use the terms “ethics panel” or “death panel”, but only the most naive and starry-eyed could think that such panels and other rationing measures will surely be employed and probably quite early on. We had these before in the days before the universal availability of hemodialysis so we could easily have them again. Likewise cuts in Medicare are factual and won’t be completely ameliorated by a few allegedly “free screenings”.

    I think your message of our healthcare sucking is a strong one and it need not be weakened by diminishing the ACA’s seedy dark side.

    • John Lynch
      July 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

      Once editing is finished on my book on Obamacare, I doubt you’ll think I’m downplaying the potential for a “dark side”, as you put it. But the point of this post is that pretending there are rationing panels in place now to scare elders for political gain is just plain immoral.

      What you fear it might evolve into is one thing, but that’s not the same as what these scare-mails are doing. They’re actually claiming this is already happening and Obamacare hasn’t even taken effect yet. One is legitimate speculation, the other is mean-spirited lying that’s beneath contempt.

      As for the rationing, you’re probably correct that some kind of rationing will ultimately occur (though the IPAB for hospitals doesn’t kick in until 2020)and my belief is this is a foregone conclusion. There’s no alternative. How else will we avoid insolvency? Rationing is the only rational answer. The question isn’t whether there’ll be rationing – insurers do it now, after all – but whether it’s intelligent rationing that reduces the unnecessary stuff that’s occurring now for profiteering purposes or cuts instead into needed medical care.

      This should be the focus rather than some “starry-eyed” delusion that we can continue on as we are now. Americans face a tripling of their out-of-pocket healthcare costs over the next 10-12 years – health reform or no health reform. If insurers and government regulators don’t ration care, consumers will have to self-ration care. And the experience to date with high-deductible health insurance suggests they often ration needed care because they can’t afford their our-of-pocket costs for the service.

      Will the government do any better? My belief is they’ll do better than private insurers because their financial rewards are far less direct and immediate. There’s also accountability at the polls that we don’t have with insurers.

      Let me finish by saying that I think the downsides with the ACA aren’t really “seedy” or “dark”, although there’s always that potential. If you’ve read even the free Introduction to Our Healthcare Sucks, you know I think there’s a “dark underbelly” to our current healthcare system without the ACA. The downsides I see with the ACA are more its famous “unintended consequences”, and there are enough of those to write a book about.

      In fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

      Thanks for the comment, John. We may not see eye-to-eye on this, but I appreciate the legitimacy of your concern.

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