Do the health care reform laws set up "death panels"?



PRO (yes)

Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, stated in her Sep. 8, 2009 article "Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care," in the Wall Street Journal:

"[M]any of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by - dare I say it - death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through 'normal political channels,' they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we've come to expect from this administration."

[Editors Note:  In March 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590), the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HR 4872), and Executive Order 13535 which restricted federal funds from being used for abortion services. Pro, Con, or Not Clearly Pro or Con positions made prior to the final wording of these three elements of the health care reform legislation may have changed since March 2010.]


Sep. 8, 2009 - Sarah Palin 



Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow and Director of Health and Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute, in a May 27, 2010 article "'Death Panels' Were an Overblown Claim - Until Now," available at www.cato.org, stated:

"During the debate over ObamaCare, the bill's opponents were excoriated for talk of rationing and 'death panels.'...

But if President Obama wanted to keep a lid on that particular controversy, he just selected about the worst possible nominee for director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the office that oversees government health care programs. Obama's pick, Dr. Donald Berwick, is an outspoken admirer of the British National Health Service and its rationing arm, the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE)...

Recent reports suggest that the recently passed health care bill will be far more expensive than originally projected. As it becomes apparent that ObamaCare is unsustainable, the calls for controlling its costs through rationing will grow louder. With Donald Berwick running the government's health care efforts, those voices will have a ready ear.

Maybe those worries about death panels weren't so crazy after all."


May 27, 2010 - Michael Tanner 



Jane Chastain, columnist and political commentator at WorldNetDaily, stated in her Mar. 18, 2010 article "Fooling Granny," available at www.wnd.com:

"This bill sets up an Independent Medicare Advisory Board, which is to recommend cuts for the sole purpose of limiting the amount of resources going to Medicare patients. Some have called it a 'Death Panel.' You may think this is harsh, but if this bill passes, many seniors will die prematurely because the recommendations of these unelected bureaucrats will go into effect. Congress is not required to act on them!"


Mar. 18, 2010 - Jane Chastain 



CON (no)

Barack H. Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, stated during an Aug. 11, 2009 town hall meeting in Portsmouth, NH, available at www.whitehouse.gov:

"The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for 'death panels' that will basically pull the plug on grandma... this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, et cetera. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready, on their own terms. It wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything. This is I guess where the rumor came from."

[Editors Note:  In March 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590), the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HR 4872), and Executive Order 13535 which restricted federal funds from being used for abortion services. Pro, Con, or Not Clearly Pro or Con positions made prior to the final wording of these three elements of the health care reform legislation may have changed since March 2010.]


Aug. 11, 2009 - Barack Obama, JD 



The Kaiser Family Foundation, in a July 7, 2010 article "Kaiser Health Tracking Poll - July 2010" available at www.kff.org, stated:

"[L]arge shares of seniors mistakenly believe the law includes provisions that cut some previously universal Medicare benefits and creates 'death panels.'  Half of seniors (50%) say the law will cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare, and more than a third (36%) incorrectly believe the law will 'allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.'"


July 7, 2010 - Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) 



Jerry Old, MD, Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the Kansas University School of Medicine at Wichita, stated in a Mar. 15, 2010 article "End of Life Discussions Are in Patietnts' Best Interests," available at www.ama-assn.org:

"Recently proposed federal legislation on health reform would have allowed physicians to code and get paid for discussing end-of-life care options with patients. This idea was not welcomed; instead, it was met with alarm and bizarre misunderstanding  - the 'death panel' inference and cries of 'health care rationing.' The provision has been removed from current reform bills."


Mar. 15, 2010 - Jerry Old, MD 



Brendan Nyhan, PhD, Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan, stated the following in his Apr. 2010 article "Why the 'Death Panel' Myth Wouldn't Die: Misinformation in the Health Care Reform Debate," published in The Forum:

"The myth reached its peak after it was embellished by Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate, who denounced fictitious government 'death panels'...

[I]ndependent observers condemned her claim about 'death panels' as false: there was simply no evidence that funding for voluntary end-of-life consultations would create a mechanism for ‘bureaucrats' to withdraw care from '[t]he sick, elderly, or disabled.' While efforts to reduce growth in health care costs under Obama’s plan might lead to more restrictive rationing than already occurs under the current health care system, that hardly justifies suggestions that reform legislation would create a 'death panel' that would deny care to individual seniors or disabled people.

Nonetheless, Palin’s comments created a media frenzy... By mid-August, Pew reported that 86% of Americans reported having heard of the claim... Among those who had heard of the claim, fully half either believed it was true (30%) or did not know (20%), including 70% of Republicans (47% true, 23% don’t know). Three other polls found similar results."


Apr. 2010 - Brendan Nyhan, PhD