03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Death Panels Lie On Factcheck.Org's 'Whoppers Of 2009'

Politifact already named Sarah Palin's "death panels" claim its lie of the year -- prompting an indignant response from the former Alaska governor. Now Factcheck.org has followed suit, calling the claim that health care reform would lead to euthanasia for the elderly and disabled a "whopper of 2009."

The non-partisan group, however, pinned most of the blame on longtime reform foe Betsy McCaughey.

"Death Panels" The "pulling the plug on grandma" falsehood really took off once former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin coined the term "Death Panel," but this falsehood got its first push from former New York lieutenant governor and health care overhaul opponent Betsy McCaughey.

She misrepresented a provision (since dropped) that merely called for Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions to help seniors make end-of-life care decisions, such as designating a health care proxy, choosing a hospice or writing a living will. McCaughey twisted that into "a required counseling session" that would "tell them how to end their life sooner." Palin later wrote on her Facebook page that she doesn't want government bureaucrats to decide whether her parents or child with Down Syndrome are "worthy of health care." Who would? Certainly not legislators, who didn't call for the creation of any such "Death Panel" in the health care bills.

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