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New York Times columnist aids Sarah Palin’s “death panel” smear

This is long lost in the mists of time, but the single most contemptible lie about Obamacare -- that it includes "death panels" -- wasn't originally rooted in vague notions of rationing or socialization. It began as a paranoid, dishonest critique of a provision included in early drafts of a bill that ultimately became the Affordable Care Act.

Back in the summer of 2009, healthcare reformers hoped the final legislation would allow physicians to bill Medicare when they provide end of life counseling to seniors who want it.

Reform opponents on the far fringes of the right fused an immensely dishonest depiction of this provision with equally dishonest characterizations of existing programs designed for efficient and effective provision of healthcare services to claim that under Obamacare providers would be required to encourage sick people to transition from curative to hospice care earlier than they might otherwise be inclined. Perhaps at the expense of experimental treatments that might save their lives.

The attack was vile enough to discredit its original promotors and confine them to the periphery of public debate, but it created a large enough public backlash that terrified Democrats ultimately dropped the provision from the bill.

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