Sarah Palin wades back into the 'death panel' debate

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    In this 2008 file photo, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin campaigns in Missouri. On the eve of Obama's historic speech to a joint session of congress – and in the midst of a heated national debate on healthcare – Sarah Palin is again raising the specter of 'death panels.'
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Old rumors die hard.

Not a month ago, some conservatives were stoking fears that President Barack Obama planned to "pull the plug on grandma" -- a gross distortion of the healthcare reform proposal backed by the White House.

The "death panel" myths were eventually debunked. But a poll conducted by Pew Research at the end of August found that 86 percent of respondents had heard of the “death panel” controversy. Of those people, 30 percent said it was true.

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Now, on the eve of Obama's historic speech to a joint session of congress -- and in the midst of a heated national debateon healthcare -- Sarah Palin is again raising the specter of "death panels."

Keep in mind that it was Palin who is credited with coining the term. Writing on her Facebook account in August, Palin argued that President Obama’s version of healthcare would let bureaucrats "decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether [patients] are worthy of health care.”

Today, Palin argued her case on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal -- a space historically friendly to conservative commentators. "Is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by -- dare I say it -- death panels?" Palin wrote. "Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans."

Palin is referring specifically to page 5 of H.R. 3200, the heathcare proposal backed by the White House. (The text of the full bill is available here.) The language on that page would require Medicare to pay for some end-of-life counseling sessions with a healthcare practitioner. But according to factcheck.org, a non-profit, non-partisan site, there is no basis for the "death panel" claims:

In addition to the work done by factcheck.org, the Pulitzer-prize winning site Politifact has published a lengthy refutation of Palin's claims. Here's an excerpt:

It's worth noting that in her Journal piece, Palin cites fears of "death panels," but stops short of claiming that those panels actually exist. Coming from a politicians who got the whole frenzy started, that's some twisted logic indeed.

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