In 2009, former Republican nominee for vice president Sarah Palin dominated the conversation about health care reform with one of the most potent and viral pieces of demagoguery in recent American history: death panels.
“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,” she said.
Palin’s science fiction-like conjecture of what the still-developing health care law will yield wound up killing a crucial and harmless part of the law: taxpayer-provided end-of-life counseling that would have asked all Medicare recipients to voluntarily set up a living will, which could have saved taxpayers billions while easing suffering for those near death and their families, who are often forced to make unbearable decisions.
A recent study suggests that even the act of debunking the law did little to blunt the misinformation. “Sometimes, providing accurate information will only propel false beliefs,” wrote The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff.
Since there’s no evidence that what Palin described is in the law, Republicans have just decided that the real “death panel” is the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
IPAB is a 15-member board that cannot cut benefits or increase co-pays. It exists to make recommendations on cuts in payments to doctors only if Medicare’s costs grow too fast. Because the costs of government’s single-payer health care program for seniors are growing at an all-time low, the board won’t even convene until 2015 — at the earliest.
You can see now why it’s so hard to debunk this lie. The falsehood is so much more compelling.
Time magazine’s Mark Halperin did his part to keep the fraud alive during an interview with WorldNetDaily on Monday, when he said death panels are “built into the plan.” In the video above it comes around the eight-minute mark. Halperin corrected himself the next day — but the damage had been done.
Screenshot via Senator Ted Cruz’s YouTube channel