Politico’s ‘New Right-Wing Scare Tactic’ on Healthcare

Following the growth of “a new right-wing scare tactic” that “has blossomed on conservative blogs and emails lists,” Talking Points Memo Muckraker Zachary Roth (7/28/09) describes the healthcare meme as “the notion that the reform bill making its way through the House would lead to euthanasia by requiring senior citizens to submit to ‘end-of-life consultations'”–and thinks that maybe

it won’t surprise you to learn this is a lie. But President Obama just got a question on it at a public event. And the idea has now made it into Politico, where a straight news story asks in its headline, all even-handed: “Will Proposal Promote Euthanasia?” Since Politico thinks it’ll be easier to “win the morning” by misleading readers into believing there’s a legitimate debate over this issue, it’s worth taking a minute to debunk it.

In fact, Politico‘s story contains pretty much all the information needed to do that. It’s just that almost none of it makes it into the headline, or the first seven paragraphs of the piece, which focus on the fact that Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and other reforms opponents are raising the euthanasia alarm.

Explaining how the clause in question would really only require that regular consultations with seniors contain “an explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice,” Roth notes that “seniors are in no way required to take advantage of this benefit.”

Roth tells how “Politico renders this information as: ‘It does not mandate individuals to take advantage of the benefit, proponents say‘” [Roth’s emphasis].

“Nor is there any reasonable basis for believing that these consultations, if chosen, would do anything to promote euthanasia,” Roth writes, especially since it “is illegal in 48 states anyway.”