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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Barbara

    It wasn't loose language by the Democrats that fueled the "Twitter Quitter" to declare the presence of Death Panels in the proposed Healthcare Reform Package. Rather it was this person's lack of understanding and total disregard for credence in facts before throwing up again in public. She did it throughout her "campaign" and now with nothing else to occupy her time since turning her backs on those who elected her-she continues to make false accusations.

    August 23, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. annie for Palin

    Is Sarah Palin's turn of words 'death panels' any different than obama wee wee-d? If anyone had half of a brain or even one floating brain cell left they would have known this was a play on words. Bottom line "a government representative calling on American citizens 65 and older to adivse them of end of life proceedures" all boils down to the same thing. At least our senior citizens stood up against this and didn't wee wee-d on themselves as obama did. BUT obama got even – he cancelled their cost of living increase in social security and raised their medicare payments.

    August 23, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. annie for Palin

    If anyone would read this piece of garbage called HR3200 they would know what it says! The bill says a 'government representative' will call at the seniors 'home' and advise them of end of life not a doctor. So guess mccain has not read it either!

    August 23, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Carl Justus

    McCain knows the that amendment was introduced by a republican from Georgia, who defended it until the republicans jumped all over it as another excuse to increase the profits of the insurance companies.

    He is liar if he says different. McCain plays both sides of the fence. He likes to talk about how much he knows about the military, but Kerry had a higher rank. If McCain was such hot shot military man, then why didn't he stay in the navy, his father was an admiral and his grandfather was an admiral, and the reason McCain did not stay in he knew he would never be an admiral so he left, divorced his wife who also had a handicap and married a hot babe with a lot of cash.

    August 23, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. jon

    Call it defacto "death panels", call if rationing, call it whatever you like, it's definitely coming. The reality is that people who the government feels don't have a decent chance for recovery will not be treated. This is not a criticism, this is a fact.

    August 23, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. Elizabeth

    Maybe McCain should also mention that the vague language that led the moronic Palin to start spouting off about "death panels" was *put there by a Republican!* That's right, folks–everything that scares you about "Obamacare" was put there by the other side.

    August 23, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. sunshine

    shame to the republican party and this spiteful woman for trying to put fear and hate into the American people. Everyone needs health care, whats's wrong with that??

    August 23, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    No McCrypt, it is Fox Noise and Fox-Lite, formerly CNN, providing liars and traitors like you and that shrill shill, a platform to proclaim your lies.

    Oh, for the news media dealt in facts and DEBUNKING lies!

    August 23, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. Farrell in Houston

    John McCain cheated and left a sick and disabled wife for a younger and wealthy Cindy, so do you think he cares about healthcare. Shame on you McShame.

    August 23, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Loup Garou 782

    "It has been found false by a number of observers" including CNN, who hand picked all those anonymous observers, Pelosi or the obama??

    August 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Allen in Hartwell, GA

    Anything the Republicans don't agree with is "ambiguous". One Congressman went so far as to state in an interview that he didn't believe a statement, even though it left no room for confusion. The only thing that will satisfy Republicans is for the Obama presidency to fail disgracefully. But it has nothing to do with race, mind you.

    August 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. Mark in Atlanta

    Bullcrap. My son has Down Syndrome. I read the lanuage. I was not confused. The bill would be a godsend for me and my family. Right now, the people telling us our son isn't worthy of care are our insurance companies and our Republican Governor who has been slashing programs right and left.

    August 23, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. MsDp

    Mr. McCain, as we all know, is not capable of making good decisions nor is he capable of telling the truth. He only knows how to play games, for example, choosing his running mate in an attempt to steal votes (Hilliary's that is). So why should anyone expect him to have good judgement, or make sensible statements regarding the health care issue. I can't believe he really said this, especially when he knows there is no final bill....

    August 23, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Danny J

    John McCain has been surprisingly insightful.

    Why doesn't the Obama administration prevent all these rumors by simply clarifying things? I don't understand how anyone can be pushing for a bill that they just don't have any information about.

    It's like all these Senators in these town halls are trying to get people to buy the "mystery box," Who knows what it contains!

    August 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Bob of Lompoc

    Credibility gone. Think Palin. If you had been elected and died in office, think Palin. Jaysus ! What a dimwhit – both of you.

    August 23, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. barry in las vegas

    Not only did the Democrats reject the amendments to clairify that treatment wouldn't be denied, they also refused an amendment to claify that abortion would not be paid for.

    If, as the Democrats and Obama say, there is to be no rationing of treatment or paid for abortions, why not put the language in the bill?

    Obama and the Democrats have created their own monster and now are living with the consequenses – while all the time crying out that the Republicans are to fault when in fact they won't even allow amendments to clarify what they claim is not in HB 3200.

    August 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. maddy09

    Does the bill say they are going to form "death panels". Duh – no, that would be pretty stupid to put it out there where you can actually see the intent. Does it provide for panels of people to decide what procedures will be covered and at what reimbursement. Yes!

    If you don't cover certain procedures (especially for the elderly) that extend life, then you are essentially putting peoples lives at risk. The people who decide what procedures will be covered AFTER the bill is passed are the ones who will shape life and death issues in this country. The people who decide how much a doctor can earn on a procedure AFTER the bill is passed are the people who will shape the direction our medical facilities and professionals will take with their careers.

    If you don't cover angioplasties or you only pay minimal dollars for them they won't get done and many people will "have the plug pulled on them" without the bill ever saying that that was the intent. Take a look at the people President Obama has chosen to write the regulations. Read what they have said in the past. This will be the best way to determine whether or not we will have "life or death panels" in this country

    August 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Ted

    And exactly what has John McSame done to develop a cohesive and comprehensive healthcare program. Nothing. All he has done is rabbble rouse. Jerk. He has had federally provided healthcare all his life. If he had to pay copays and fight with the insurance companies to get things covered, he would have more to say than just the same old GOP line of garbage. And when is some one going to tell Sarah the QUITTER to just shut up. She has nothing to say other than to really tell people in her typical double wide manner that she actually wanted to abort TRIG when she and her snowmobile driving husband found out what was going on prior to his birth. That is the problem with Sarah – she has a big mouth and nothing comes out of it except crap.

    August 23, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  19. charlie in Maine

    Sen Mcain,
    You disappoint me. I expect those knuckle draggers on the far right to be against this simply by reflex. I expect the big insurance companies to be against it because, let's face it in Federal Express could get rid of that peesky US Postal Service the would and they could charge whatever the y want to send packages. I also expect the GOP leadership to be against it for political reasons( like a couple of generations out of power like when they opposed social security. But you sir where is you Maverickiness that we heard so much about this time last year? Do you really want to look back during your retirement and list blocking healthcare as an accomplishment?
    Join your Mavericjk friend Olympia Snoewe and Susan Collins and get behind the public option. ( PS it will put your name in the paper again too.)

    August 23, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. Steven

    And picking know-nothing governors from Alaska to be VP fuels the "McCain's senile" claims.

    August 23, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. Lola

    He should not try and excuse her (Palin's) stupidity. He knows better, I think. Probably not he chose her to run. One of the many, many, many reasons he is not president. Not worth our time to read about either of them.

    August 23, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. D. Tree

    The whole "death panel" thing was a Republican idea anyway – and Republicans voted on the SAME provision when they passed their bloated medicare bill in 2005.

    The way the Republican party is politicizing all this stuff is sickening – now, they are taking a perfectly good part of the bill out because of Lies.

    August 23, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. jrzshor

    i'm guessing that most people failed (if they ever actually took the class) english comprehension. palin as quoted in the above article "wrote that the bill could lead to 'death panels'."

    the word everyone has ignored is "COULD". it could be in the 80's in alaska in Janurary! a woman could be president one day (not)!

    August 23, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. Elizabeth

    Good gawd, those decisions are being made now, Senator McCain. Most large medical facilities have such panels who review cases and make determinations about care. As an example, I am a cancer survivor who developed severe heart disease caused by one or more of the chemo drugs used. My heart is so severely damaged that an ICD (implanted cardioverter defibrillator) was needed. It is both a pacemaker/defibrillator. Should it not be sufficient to keep me going my only other alternative is a heart transplant. A review board would have to determine if they would consider me a worthwhile risk for a transplant before I could go on a waiting list. There are no "death panels". There are ALREADY review boards and it doesn't matter whether you have health insurance or not.

    August 23, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  25. Susan

    Be honest John..she is a liability to the party, and she lies...incessantly! It's OK...we all know the real narcissistic Palin by now.. you can say what you think. You've been muzzled for a year by this demon..time to break loose.

    August 23, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
1 2 3 4