Death panels live!

Rep. Steve King still thinks Obamacare will decide "whether your life is worth saving"

Topics: Steve King, Medicare, Obamacare, Death Panels, Conspiracy theorists,

Death panels live!U.S. House of Representatives member Steve King from Iowa speaks to the Minutemen, a group of civilian border-watchers, gathered in Laredo, Texas September 11, 2006. The Minutemen plan to start patroling the border along the United States and Mexico. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell (UNITED STATES) (Credit: © Joe Mitchell / Reuters)

The death panel meme seemed to go out of vogue along with a certain former governor from Alaska, but Republican Rep. Steve King likes to party like it’s 2009, telling voters yesterday that life-ending government death panels are real. The North Iowa Globe Gazette reports that King visited Stellar Industries in Garner, where he fielded questions on healthcare policy:

One man asked if it was true that the plan would deny care to elderly cancer patients.

“We think so,” King said.

King said the new health care law sets up a panel to decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t.

They will make a decision on whether your life is worth saving.”



You get the sense of exasperation FactCheck.org feels when debunking this myth in its latest of many columns on the subject, from May of this year (“it feels like we are beating a dead horse with this one”). The closest thing to a death panel in the law is something called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of doctors, economists and consumer advocates who try to come up with ways to contain the cost of Medicare spending.  The health reform law specifically states that the panel “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care,” and Congress has oversight in who gets chosen and whether their rulings go into effect, but the myth lives on nonetheless.

While it’s easy to laugh off this kind of conspiracy theorizing, for employees at Stellar or any other voter who relies on Medicare and may not have the time to research these things for themselves, it’d be nice if they could trust that their congressman wasn’t actively feeding them misinformation.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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