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Monday, January 23, 2017
Fake News: MRC Falsely Portrays End-of-Life Counseling As 'Death Panels'
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Matthew Balan complained in a Jan. 12 post that NPR's "All Things Considered" "played up the long-term effect of the anti-ObamaCare "death panel" talking point and labeled this phrase 'fake news.'" Balan then perpetuated that fake news:

[Host Don] Gonyea first noted that the "death panel" phrase was "coined" by Sarah Palin in a 2009 post on Facebook, where the former Alaska governor "imagined her elderly parents or her child with Down syndrome standing — quote, 'in front of Obama's death panel and being denied care.'" He continued with soundbites from talk show host Rush Limbaugh and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who "echoed Palin's dire warnings." However, he never explained the specific proposal in ObamaCare that these anti-ObamaCare talking heads were decrying.

Los Angeles Times correspondent Noam Levey reported in a July 8, 2015 article that the Obama administration has "revived a proposal to reimburse physicians for talking with their Medicare patients about how patients want to be cared for as they near death." Levey disclosed that this "new regulation threatens to revive the 'death panel' campaign that Republicans successfully used to demonize the federal health law as it was being debated." So, the concept that NPR deemed as "fake news" is, in fact, a real thing.

But even the conservative National Review points out that "Paid end-of-life counseling and advance planning are not 'death panels.'" Wesley J. Smith continues, debunking longtime right-wing health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey:

To accept McCaughey’s prescription, one would have to believe that doctors don’t give a fig about their patients and greedily drool over the prospect of the unwanted and unproductive being pushed into the grave. That’s simply not true.

More, one would have to accept the premise that hospice is not humane, but avaricious and abusive. There are horror stories, to be sure, but so many more examples of beneficence and hope in hospice. Irresponsibly trashing hospice can cause real harm to individuals and push society toward accepting assisted suicide!

Besides, advance-care planning is important, and people should not wait until seriously ill or at admission into a hospital.

There is a way to ensure that an advance directive doesn’t become a death panel. Don’t sign a “living will” that gives doctors or bean counters decision-making power.

Rather, prepare a durable power of attorney for health care in which you decide who gets to make choices for you when you can’t. 

We've shown how the MRC refuses to have a serious conversation about fake news. Now it's creating some.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 PM EST

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