Pants on Fire

From Conor Clarke at the Atlantic:

One of the wackier developments in the recent health care debate has been the sudden return of Betsy McCaughey. Fifteen years ago McCaughey wrote an error-laden piece for the New Republic, a piece the magazine later recanted, that became a rallying cry of the successful effort to kill Clintoncare, and that McCaughey parlayed into a short-lived career as the lieutenant governor of New York. McCaughey’s health-care shtick in 1994 was to brag about having read all 1,000-plus pages of the bill and cite, with Biblical certainty, obscure provisions that made the Clintons look like serial killers.

Original DVD cover

And now McCaughey is back. And her shtick, like a bug trapped in the amber of the Clinton years, is to brag about having read the entire bill, while pointing to obscure provisions that make all that Obama campaign stuff about hope and change look like an excuse to get into office and start knocking off the elderly. [In the Wall Street Journal, she cites] page numbers in various bills to equate comparative effectiveness research with “limiting care based on the patient’s age.” [On Fox News she drops] page numbers to claim that the congressional plan will force you out of your current insurance program. [On] Fred Thompson’s radio show, [she] ostentatiously [cites] her reading of the bill to make the claim that “Congress would make it mandatory…that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner,”

That last claim about required government euthanasia counseling — repeated hundreds of times in dozens of places over the past week — is worth lingering over. […] There is absolutely nothing about a “required counseling session.” Nothing. There is a requirement that Medicare cover the session if you haven’t had it in the past five years but, naturally, that doesn’t mean you are required to take advantage of the coverage.

From Politifact:

Republicans have found many reasons to oppose the Democrats’ health care proposal, but this is one of the oddest.

Betsy McCaughey, chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and former lieutenant governor of New York state, says the bill goes too far to encourage senior citizens to end their lives.

On the radio show of former Sen. Fred Thompson on July 16, 2009, McCaughey said “Congress would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner.”

She said those sessions would help the elderly learn how to “decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go in to hospice care … all to do what’s in society’s best interest or in your family’s best interest and cut your life short.”

Her point has caught on with conservative pundits. On his July 21 show, Rush Limbaugh said the following:

“Mandatory counseling for all seniors at a minimum of every five years, more often if the seasoned citizen is sick or in a nursing home. … That’s an invasion of the right to privacy. We can’t have counseling for mothers who are thinking of terminating their pregnancy, but we can go in there and counsel people about to die.”


In her chat with Thompson, McCaughey said the language can be found on page 425 of the health care bill, so we started there. Indeed, Sec. 1233 of the bill, labeled “Advance Care Planning Consultation” details how the bill would, for the first time, require Medicare to cover the cost of end-of-life counseling sessions.

According to the bill, “such consultation shall include the following: An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to; an explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses; an explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.”


Jon Keyserling, general counsel and vice president of public policy for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, which supports the provision, said the bill doesn’t encourage seniors to end their lives, it just allows some important counseling for decisions that take time and consideration.


In no way would these sessions be designed to encourage patients to end their lives, said Jim Dau, national spokeman for AARP, a group that represents people over 50 that has lobbied in support of the advanced planning provision.

McCaughey’s comments are “not just wrong, they are cruel,” said Dau.


Both Keyserling and Dau were particularly troubled that McCaughey insisted — three times, to be exact — that the sessions would be mandatory, which they are not.

For his part, Keyserling said he and outside counsel read the language carefully to make sure that was not the case.

“Neither of us can come to the conclusion that it’s mandatory.” he said.


For our ruling on this one, there’s really no gray area here. McCaughey incorrectly states that the bill would require Medicare patients to have these counseling sessions and she is suggesting that the government is somehow trying to interfere with a very personal decision. And her claim that the sessions would “tell [seniors] how to end their life sooner” is an outright distortion. Rather, the sessions are an option for elderly patients who want to learn more about living wills, health care proxies and other forms of end-of-life planning. McCaughey isn’t just wrong, she’s spreading a ridiculous falsehood. That’s a Pants on Fire.


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32 responses to “Pants on Fire

  1. They have been great this time about the Health Care so far.. I just got another one from them about the huge email that is going around, they have started checking it and found the same thing..all lies or mostly lies so far.. So they are trying to help push back.. And they are naming names.

    I am glad there is finally someone else starting to push back on the lies now. I just wish there was more.

    • what gets me is that the lies are what get talked about the most on tv, but the rebuttals are given just a couple of seconds. emails are fine, but how many people see them? the ones who are on the mailing lists are people who are already convinced. it’s singing to the choir. the same thing with blogs. we can help get information out, but we mostly attract those who agree with us.

  2. Stop the presses ! A Republican telling flat assed lies she knows are lies to another Republican with a radio show who simply drools a little nods his head and feigns outrage. Old Fred is probably wondering how soon they’re coming to counsel his wrinkled lazy ass. This chick was a piece of shit in New York, I think even wacky Patacki eventually had to send her packing. Hope she gets what’s left of her 15 minutes cause that look is fading fast.

    • lies beget lies. this is what louie the gohmert said yesterday:

      I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I read that Lou Dobbs said [Obama’s] original birth certificate was destroyed.

      then he said that he doesn’t know why birthers are considered conspiracy theorists. 🙄

  3. Before I even got to the paragraph, I knew exactly which clause it was referring to because of that neighbor I told you about. She knew ALL about Article 425 and it scared her to death about the health care reform bill.

    • slap her, and tell her to get over it! tell her it’s up to her if she wants to meet with someone about end of life issues or not. if she doesn’t want to deal with it, then she just doesn’t make an appointment to speak with anyone. what i find funny is that, anytime i’ve gone to a new doctor or have been admitted to a hospital, i’ve been asked if i have a living will. not once did any of those people kill me afterwards. 🙄

      • I copied and pasted the articles and emailed them to her. She says she’s always open to both sides of the story, but I think she leans right. We’ll see.

        • good girl, ynb! this is part of what i wrote
          earlier at annette’s blog. maybe it will help you explain to her why reform would be a good thing:

          seniors need to hear from doctors that they won’t have to switch medications, because their insurance companies suddenly decided to change their lists of the drugs they’ll pay for. they need to hear that doctors will be able to spend more time with them, rather than on the phone fighting with insurance companies. they need to hear that they don’t have to travel 20 miles to get a test, because the lab closest to where they live is not on the list of approved providers. they need to hear that they don’t have to wait to see if the insurance company will approve a referral so that they can see a specialist. they need to hear that they can go to the specialist of their choice, instead of the one that’s on their plan. they need to hear that it’s okay for them to go to an emergency room in the middle of the night, without fear that they’ll owe thousands of dollars, because they didn’t get approval first. they need to hear that, if they get sick while they’re visiting their grandkids in another state, they can see a doctor and not have to worry that he’s out of network. they need to hear that their medical records will be accessible to their doctors and emergency doctors so that they don’t have to worry about forgetting to tell them about a medication they’re taking or a procedure or illness they had that might affect how they should be treated for new ailments.

          • but, you know, those right-wingers think us lefties are just a bunch of bimbos who believe such ridiculousness! 😉

            • BTW…I just spoke to a friend down in Florida who had a CT scan earlier this week. The doctor’s office won’t give her the results unless she comes into the office for another visit (she was told it was a routine procedure and that it didn’t necessarily mean there was anything wrong). Geez…….

              • i always say not to worry until you know you have something to worry about, ynb. best wishes to your friend. the docs down here tend to be a bit melodramatic, so take heart that there’s nothing terribly wrong with your friend.

                • I just see it as another attempt to screw us by turning in an another unnecessary bill to insurance (that is, if the results were negative).

                  • it’s unreal what some doctors down here do in order to be able to bill more. i went to my primary doc and told him my hand was killing me. he gave me a referral to a hand surgeon and sent me to get x-rays taken. even i could see the spot on the x-rays that was abnormal. there was a distinct white spot that shouldn’t be there. i took the x-rays with me to the hand surgeon 10 days later. the first thing they did was take more x-rays! i told them i already had x-rays taken, but they said the doc needs to see the difference. i said they were just taken 10 days before, not a year ago, but they insisted. they took an entire series. after sitting in the office for 4 hours, i finally went to the exam room to see a physical therapist who asked me questions and then a physician’s assistant who asked me the same questions. finally, the doc showed up. he looked at one x-ray, declared it to be a calcification from some injury i must have forgotten about, and was gone faster than he appeared. the extra x-rays were totally unnecessary, and i was pissed off at myself for not refusing more x-rays.

  4. God, I hate the right. Lying, disingenuous shits!

  5. Gnashes teeth….

    How about this:

    Obama told the story of how an elderly woman wrote him saying she did not want government run health care and that the Obama better not touch her Medicare.

    The president paused and kinda raised an eyebrow, like, “Get it?”

    Medicare IS government run health care.*

    These people who have their panties in a knot about the dreaded evil *socialism*… collect their Social Security check, get Medicare prescriptions, & go hang out @ the Senior Center.
    All government funded socialist programs.

    (hat tip to Kellybelle)

    • rethuglicans use all the buzzwords–socialism! 😮 communism! 😮 marxism! 😮 fascism! 😮 idiots like glenn blechhh, princess sarah, and the imbeciles in congress use the terms all the time, but i doubt that any of them know what they mean. i kept wishing that someone would ask princess what they meant during the campaign. of course, they all make believe they know what they mean, and their adoring public gasp at the very sound of those horrible, horrible -isms, even though they have no clue what they mean either. that’s why the dems need to get out there and explain to the unwashed masses that we already have socialized medicine, and those who have it would not switch it for private insurance.

  6. I have nothing funny to say, so instead I’ll paste in a link to a post on another blog about Fox and Fiends using this exact same scare tactic a couple of days ago.

  7. she was betsy mcCaughey ross – yes betsy ross – and i can assure she didnt sew no flags

    she ran for governor in 1998 – didnt get the dem nomination and became a liberal (yes a liberal) – she got 1% of the vote, a divorce from ross and no flags

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