August 23rd, 2009
01:52 PM ET
3 years ago

McCain says 'ambiguous' health bills fuel 'death panel' claims

Sen. McCain spoke out Sunday about a controversial provision in some versions of health care reform legislation -- a provision dubbed 'death panels' by his former running mate.
Sen. McCain spoke out Sunday about a controversial provision in some versions of health care reform legislation - a provision dubbed 'death panels' by his former running mate.

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain says loose language in Democratic health-care bills fueled claims by his former running mate that the plan could lead to "death panels" for the elderly and handicapped.

"The way that it was written made it a little bit ambiguous," McCain, last year's Republican presidential nominee, told ABC's "This Week" in an interview broadcast Sunday. But he added, "I don't think they were called 'death panels,' don't get me wrong."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate in last November's election, wrote that the bill could lead to "death panels" that would decide whether people like her parents or her infant son, who has Down Syndrome, were "worthy of health care." Though it has been found false by a number of observers, including CNN, the claim has been widely circulated by critics of the Obama administration's push to expand health care coverage to most Americans.

The claims stem from a provision in a bill before the House of Representatives that would require Medicare to reimburse doctors who counsel patients on "end-of-life issues" such as living wills. The Senate Finance Committee, which is still drafting its version of a bill, is likely to dump the provision, its ranking Republican said last week.

But McCain said the bills call for "a board that would decide the most effective measures to provide health care for people," a step he said could lead to treatments being denied.

"Doesn't that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries?" the Arizona senator asked. And he said Democrats rejected amendments "that clarified that none of the decisions that would be made by this board would in any way affect the depriving of needed treatments for patients."

The Obama administration argues that care is already being rationed by insurance companies, which can deny procedures or coverage for a variety of reasons. There is no final health care bill in the House or the Senate, and many claims about health care surround individual lines in a version of a bill working its way through one of the chambers.


Filed under: Health care • John McCain • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Palin 2012 - 2014 1/2

    If there were "death panels", Palin should run and hide, as her "mentally challenged" disability would make her vulnerable!!!!

    August 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. joco, NH

    Does the term "sour loser" apply to this man? You bet it does. This is a man who I once respected. This was before he allowed Karl Rove to demoralize his wife and family and still support the former president. This was before this man lost to a man who reached his arm out to ask for help and because, in the end, he is old boy politics – he said no.
    What kind of an American is that? Not my kind.

    August 23, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Susan

    You are nuts! Don't you have a living will? It's a helpful tool at any time of life. And, speaking of time, it's time to retire, John. Maybe it's time for you to meet with the "panel" of experts. I certainly don't want to see you or Kly reelected – the two of yourare just on the dole and do nothing for Arizona or any other state.

    August 23, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Ken, Arizona

    Only those with below average intelligence could have come to yours and Sarah's conclusion. Stop making excuses for blatant lies and distortions for political gain. What happened to "America First"?

    August 23, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Freeman

    Rhetoric from a man who has to justify releasing that Palin woman to the world. Is he serious? Afraid so.

    August 23, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Moe, NY

    I can't believe a single word that comes out of the mouths of Republicans/Conservatives. This group is so full of hate they will say and do anything to make our wonderful President fail, even resorting to outright lies and fear tactics. Hope the majority of Americans see their tactics for what it is, and denounce the hateful people. As far as I am concerned these Republicans/Conservatives not only fear change, but are in bed with the lobbyists.

    August 23, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Post always rejected by CNN

    Palin knew perfectly well this statement meant. She just wanted to cause trouble. We all remember April 16, 2008, the day she proclaimed the very same thing in Alaska. So if she didn't know what in Hades it meant, why did she proclaim that as a DAY to seek counselling in Alaska....republicans gee you gotta love the way they think people are stupid. But then come to think of it, a heck of a lot of them are, why else would they believe the crap the republicans are spreading about the health bill.

    August 23, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. thetruthisoutthere

    come on little man, be a big man and admit she's wrong...oh, rush wouldn't like that

    August 23, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. Dennis

    It would appear that John McCain is on "crack cocaine", not that I think he is. I love the strategy of "suggesting" the possibility of something the speaker knows is not true, just to see how many ignorant people will pick it up and run with it like it is true. Seems to be the favorite strategy of those people who can't have an original idea or constructive thought. Dirty tricks designed to fool the people who can't think for themselves. Seems like the way Johny is defending Sara he must be getting something on the side.............just "suggesting"

    August 23, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Patricia T.

    How painful that McCain still defends Palin. You would think he would know enough to put meaningful distance between the two of them. That said, he knows there's nothing in this proposed legislation that would lead any rational person to make ridiculous claims like the so-called "death panels." It really says something about qualities of leadership when all you do is inflame an issue and frighten people rather than offer solutions. It's so much easier to divide people than it is to think of thoughtful way to unite them! I expected more of McCain.

    August 23, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. Clint

    Thank you John for nothing, and yes, your airhead running mate.

    August 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Peter E

    Complaints about the government SUPPOSEDLY in the health care bill: it will lead to more bureaucracy, it will lead to health care rationing, it will lead to a bureaucrat deciding whether to pay for seniors' care, it will lead to people's money being used to pay for others' abortions. Facts about the CURRENT private health care system: 30% of your fees already go to their bureaucracy, they routinely deny health care due their customers, often overwriting doctor recommendations, they don't cover seniors due to far too many pre-existing conditions, they ration their coverage, and yes, they DO cover abortions, resulting in your fees being used to pay for somebody else's abortion. If you're going to complain, at least do it fairly. Look up the facts about your own insurance company too!

    August 23, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Peter E

    People's complaints about the government SUPPOSEDLY in the health care bill: it will lead to more bureaucracy, it will lead to health care rationing, it will lead to a bureaucrat deciding whether to pay for seniors' care, it will lead to people's money being used to pay for others' abortions. Facts about CURRENT private health care: 30% of your fees already go to their bureaucracy, they routinely deny health care due their customers, often overwriting doctor recommendations, they don't cover seniors due to far too many pre-existing conditions, they ration their coverage, and yes, they DO cover abortions, resulting in your fees being used to pay for somebody else's abortion. If you're going to complain, at least do it fairly. Look up facts about your own insurance company too!

    August 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Equality for all

    The only thing "fueling " the "death panel" myths is the twit McCain unleashed upon this nation when he selected one of the most unqualified and divisive politicians in the world to be his running mate last year.

    August 23, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Frank

    Poor John McCain. He's still in a "protect Sarah" mode because it's his fault that she got in the national spotlight in the first place. Get over it, John. She's brainless. Live with it. And John; the legislation would require reimbursment for voluntary end-of-life counsiling, not decisions on who should or shouldn't get medical care. It's the same provision that already exists in Medicare. As a victim of health care denial by my fomer insurance carrier, I want to see this health care reform pass, where health care can't be denied by insurance companies, and coverage can't be denied because of a pre-existing condition. It's a winning situation for all people. Only those in the pockets of the big insurance companies would fight this bill. Who are they? Oh yeah.... Republicans like John McCain.

    August 23, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. lrnarug

    The words are only ambiguous if you can't read English. Apparently Ms. Palin didn't take English 101 in her 6 yr. college program.

    August 23, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. WisconsinEric

    Sorry, John, the provision to encourage end-of-life consultation voluntarily with the physician of your choice wasn't ambiguous, it had nothing to do with death panels, or government control, or pulling the plug on grandma, or any of the other b-s McCain's cronies are spewing out. I have worked in the area of end-of-life care, so I know personally how phony all those Republican claims are: no amount of spin can obscure the fact that these opponents of health care reform have used the well-being of our oldest citizens as a political football to scare people (since there's no way they can win on the merits of their argument). I sometimes wonder how they can sleep at night or look at themselves in the mirror.

    August 23, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. TCM

    That's right; the language of the bill was intentionally ambiguous. That way the liberal hacks in the white house can use it there advantage. Obama's plan has been more scrutinized than he anticipated, thus all the tea parties and uprisings by good honest Americans who don't want his crap......

    August 23, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. Susan in Arkansas

    If John McCain was wise, which I'm not certain he is, he would distance himself from comments made by Sarah Palin. Admit your mistake, already, in chosing her as your VP candidate. We don't need Tina Fey to prove to us that she is a stupid woman who makes up stuff. Most Americans know that. AND, theses DRAFTS of health care reform bills were written by both Democrats AND Republicans, John. Where have you been?

    August 23, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. kathy

    Senator McCain has benefited from government-funded health care his entire life. All I ask is that every American, who has generously provided for his health care coverage, has access to the same program. That's not too much to ask.

    August 23, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  21. George

    John: Grandma is gonna live. Please convince your birthers, gun slingers, and deathers that Grandma will be among us. Ignorance is so sad. Help your base to think without clouded lies from your far right. Good political fighting is cool, but truth would be much better than your lies.

    August 23, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. Fan of Common Sense

    I don't think that anyone really believes that Obama's proposal OVERTLY calls for these death panels. However, government and the bureaucracy that comes with it is a very very cold and insensitive thing. It's simply the nature of the beast. When you have government playing a bigger and bigger role in the system, it's simply inevitable that this is the direction it would go. I think these death panels (in some shape or form) would come to be. Talk about "a culture of death."

    August 23, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. twitter

    yes, if you are truly ignorant, as defined by Webster's Dictionary. America is being sucked down the drain in a whirlpool of ignorance. is actually quite sad to watch, and wonder, what the end-game will be. for any reasonably critically thinking person to envision the formation of 'death panels' from the very specific language of the Bill (oh yes, there are some big words in there) is to admit that one is truly ignorant of not only the english language, but of the truly "American " values as espoused, and fought for, by 'real' Americans. not those who's only American value(s) are to kill those who disagree with you, or to shout down those with whom you disagree, serving only to show again, just how truly ignorant you are.

    August 23, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. bruce, old white former republican from ma.

    Give me a break ................

    how do you parse..... let me count the ways.............. the moto of the party you say you are a part of has two letters, they are an N and an O... the can be used to write "on" or "no" by themselves....

    so I suggest you move on and just say no as the rest of your party has

    your judgement has no credibility since you VP pick..

    Yup, its that old, retired, white man from Ma.
    Bruce

    August 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. FL for Change

    This from the man who said, "the fundamentals of the American economy are strong." Shut up and go back to AZ, John. We don't care what you and the leech, Palin, that you forced upon us think.

    August 23, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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