KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Palin Defends ‘Death Panel’ Claim; Clinton, Dean, Giuliani, Murkowski Weigh In

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defends her "death panel" claim, which is sparking reaction from powerful people.

The Associated Press reports: "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. ... 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."

The AP notes: "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" (Daly, 8/14).

The Associated Press / Boston Globe reports on Bill Clinton's reaction: "The former president called 'crazy' the charges that promoting living wills and other end-of-life planning is somehow promoting death. Clinton spoke at the opening session of the Netroots Nation convention, a gathering of politically progressive bloggers and other online activists" (Nephine, 8/14).

Roll Call, on response from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska: "Murkowski, vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, told a gathering of Alaskans that while the health care system should be reformed, she believes the proposals in Congress are deeply flawed and that 'there are things that are in this bill that are bad enough that we don't need to be making things up,' the Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday. Murkowski added that claims the legislation will include 'death panels' and mandatory euthanasia of the elderly are false and are not helping the debate" (Stanton, 8/13).

The Chicago Sun-Times reports: "Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani argued today that 'it is natural' to assume that the Democratic health care reform plan will lead to 'death panels' making end-of-life decisions for seniors" (Pallasch, 8/13).

Meanwhile, ABC News reports that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the health-policy adviser at the White House's Office of Management and Budget called Palin's remark an "absolute outrage" (8/13).

Politico reports that Howard Dean labelled Palin's claims "outlandish." Politico adds that the Former Democratic National Committee Chairman "sang the praises of President Barack Obama's health care plan, calling it 'the best bill I've seen ... We've had government-run health insurance in this country for 45 years. It's Medicare. Most people like it,' he said to a standing-room only crowd (at a Washington D.C. bookstore) made up mostly of senior citizens. 'I get a kick out of people who get up at town meetings who say 'Don't give me any government-run health care and don't you touch my Medicare!'" (Heitz, 8/13).

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