Q:  Does the Affordable Care Act, include “Death Panels”?

A:  No.  The idea that health care decisions under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) would be not made by doctors, but rather by a government panel that would assess a person’s value to society and ration health care accordingly has no basis in fact.  Yet it is a “lie” that is often repeated by conservatives in an attempt to create fear and undo Obama’s landmark domestic policy accomplishment. 

While Sarah Palin may have championed this lie a few years ago, Rick Santorum is certainly promoting this idea in the current Presidential campaign.  In a recent interview with Glenn Beck, Santorum stated the ACA would ration care based on the ‘usefulness’ of an individual and would not cover his special needs child, Bella.  Writing for Forbes Magazine, Rich Ungar discusses why this is such a “despicable and hurtful lie” that is obviously aimed at creating fear in the minds of parents with special needs children. 

The truth is that the ACA will protect coverage for such children without lifetime caps or the possibility of exclusion.  Leading organizations that support the disabled not only support the ACA, they have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the ACA.

Santorum has also claimed that in countries with socialized medicine, like the Netherlands, the elderly are euthanized against their will and wear wristbands asking that they not be euthanized.  This story is a complete fabrication according to this article.  Asked about this claim, a Santorum spokesman said that Santorum just says what is in his heart. 

The simple fact is that without the ACA we will continue to see 45,000 preventable deaths a year – people who could live with medical help, but die simply because they do not have insurance.  Insurance companies have whole departments dedicated to denying or delaying claims based on technicalities.  If you are insured with your employer and lose your job or change jobs, but have a preexisting condition, before the ACA fully takes effect, you will likely lose your insurance coverage and might well turn into a statistic like the one above.

When fully implemented, about 32 million people who are currently uninsured will be able to afford and obtain medical insurance.  Everyone, including Bella, will be much safer under the ACA when fully implemented than under the existing health care system that maximizes profits for insurance companies while allowing many children and adults to fall through the cracks.