Political Correction

This Again? FL Republican Tries To Breathe New Life Into Death Panels Scare Tactic

June 09, 2010 5:44 pm ET - by Melinda Warner

Florida Republican Dan Fanelli -- he of "does this look like a terrorist?" fame -- has a spectacularly ridiculous new ad.  Instead of dressing people up as terrorists (all the while forgetting that he closely resembles the terrorist who flew his plane into the IRS building), he reverts to the 2009 Republican standard: Obamacare will kill your grandparents.

Good grief.

Luckily, PolitiFact.com analyzed the spot and rated it Pants on Fire. 


Fanelli's video suggests 'Obamacare' will cut off treatment for elderly

Dan Fanelli, a retired airline captain and Republican running against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who represents the Orlando, Fla., area, has a catchy video on his website related to the health care bill dubbed "Obamacare."

Set in a doctor's office with somber orchestral music as the backdrop, a sympathetic doctor rolls up his chair to talk to an elderly white-haired man in a patient's gown.

"I'm sorry. I've tried everything," the doctor says.

"But doctor, I've already waited over six months,'' says the patient. "I can't bear this any longer."

"It's not that it's ...," the kind doctor hesitates, placing his hand on the patient's shoulder. "They denied you because you passed the age limit for the treatment."

The depressed old man's gaze averts downward -- perhaps a hint that he realizes he will die?

Will the new health care bill approved by Congress translate to denying treatment to sweet old men like the one featured in the video? Will somber-faced doctors be telling grandpa that he is too old for treatment? We had to check this out.

First we contacted Fanelli, who said he posted the video on his website in late March. We asked if he could point us to any documentation -- such as a section of the bill, a position paper from an organization -- to support his conclusion about age limits.

The simple answer: no.

"You are asking for substantiation. I can't go to a page in the bill but what I can tell you is the country is over $13 trillion in debt. ... The medical program increases the number of recipients substantially. When you increase the number dramatically ... where is the money going to come from? It is obvious it's going to have to be only certain people are going to get certain coverages. ... The commercial is to show what is going on in other countries with socialized medicine. You can't add more services when you don't have enough money to pay the government bills currently, and that's what we've done."

Fanelli said he has his own family experience to draw his conclusions.

"My aunt lives in France and had been denied for a procedure," to get a pacemaker, he said. "The reason she was denied was because she was too old. Common sense tells me when you increase the number of people covered, and you don't have enough money to go around ... there's eventually going to come to point where we say what can we afford, what we can't afford."

Ultimately his French aunt was able to get the procedure, according to Fanelli.

Fanelli said the video "is a metaphor for what is used in England where they use age to determine what services people are going to get."

Our friends at FactCheck.org researched a question about age limits and health care in England in July 2009. The article quoted a nonprofit in England, Age Concern and Help the Aged, that ageism does occur -- for example a doctor refusing to refer an elderly patient to a consultant. But the nonprofit also stated that a national organization was created to improve health care for the elderly and one of its standards was "rooting out age discrimination."

[...]

We sent links to Fanelli's video to experts on the health care bill: Ullmann at the University of Miami; Alwyn Cassil, director of public affairs for the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research organization; and Len Nichols, Director for the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. All three said there is nothing in the bill that would cut off treatment based on an age limit.

The video "has no basis in reality whatsoever," Cassil said. "There is nothing in that bill that I am aware of, or certainly every reporter who has combed every inch of it that mentions anything about 'age limits.' ''

So to recap, Fanelli's ad offers a dramatic scene that has no solid facts behind it. He claims it portrays "Obamacare," but he cannot cite any provisions in the health care bill -- other than vague fear of a European system -- that could cause such a tragic scene. He referred us to his wife's dermatologist -- who also happens to be the star of the commercial -- but the dermatologist did not produce any conclusive evidence, either.

So the ad has lots of melodrama but no facts. We find the claim Pants on Fire.

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