1. Death Panels
It was a scenario that tapped into Americans’ deepest fears about increased government involvement with health care: President Obama was planning to a create a panel of bureaucrats charged with deciding which patients should live and which would have to die. The claim was first voiced by misinformer extraordinaire Betsy McCaughey, who asserted that House health care legislation would “absolutely require” end-of-life counseling for seniors “that will tell them how to end their life sooner.” In fact, as has been widely documented, McCaughey’s claim was based on a distortion of a provision that would allow Medicare to reimburse doctors for periodic end-of-life counseling sessions. Nonetheless, the scary image of government committees condemning the old and infirm to death spread like wildfire through cable news channels and town hall meetings, stoked by the likes of Sarah Palin and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). A vocal “deather” movement threatened to derail the national health care debate during the month of August, and judging by the high emotions that continue to flair around the issue, many Americans still fear that Obama wants to pull the plug on grandma.