Obama mentions Sen. Isakson at town hall on health care

President Obama held a town hall meeting on health care today in new Hampshire and mentioned the misinformation being spread about "death panels," which former Alaska Gov. and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin mentioned on her Facebook page last Friday.

Palin was referring to a section of the bill that promotes advance care planning -- things like living wills and durable power of attorney. As Facing South reported yesterday, one of the strongest congressional proponents of advance care planning has been U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, a conservative Republican who has called Palin's claims "nuts."

Obama mentioned Isakson in the following remarks, which came in response to a girl who asked him about an "underlying fear" among the public that they won't get needed care, the Boston Globe reports:
"Well . . . I've seen some of those signs,'' the president said to laughter. "Let me just be specific about some things that I've been hearing lately that we just need to dispose of here. The rumor that's been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for "death panels" that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we've decided that we don't -- it's too expensive to let her live anymore. And there are various -- there are some variations on this theme.''

According to a White House transcript, Obama continued:

"It turns out that I guess this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, et cetera. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they're ready, on their own terms. It wasn't forcing anybody to do anything. This is I guess where the rumor came from.''

"The irony is that actually one of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican -- then House member, now senator, named Johnny Isakson from Georgia -- who very sensibly thought this is something that would expand people's options. And somehow it's gotten spun into this idea of "death panels." I am not in favor of that. So just I want to -- (applause.) I want to clear the air here.''
Today we offer more details on where this misinformation about "death panels" comes from: a far-right religious group associated with the ministries of Moral Majority founder Rev. Jerry Falwell.