Healthcare Reform “Senior Death Warrants” Email Should Be Put to Death Itself


As predicted, the fearmongering, half truths and out-and-out lies about healthcare reform have begun in earnest.  I received an email from a dear and respected friend yesterday and was appalled at the dis-information it contained.

So I’ve decided to share the email with you and show you where it is wrong and why you need to question anything you hear in these kinds of emails, blog posts and other pieces you may read.

The email, called SENIOR DEATH WARRANTS is printed here in its entirety.  I’ve footnoted my responses below.

The actress Natasha Richardson died after falling skiing in Canada. It
took eight hours to drive her to a hospital. If Canada had our healthcare she might be alive today.
In the United States, we have medical evacuation helicopters that would have gotten her to the hospital in 30 minutes. (untrue — see comment 1)

In England anyone over 59 cannot receive heart repairs or stents or bypass because it is not covered as being too expensive and not needed.  (untrue – see comment 2)

Obama wants to have a healthcare system just like Canada’s and England’s. (untrue – see comment 3)

I got this today and am sending it on. If Obama’s plans in other areas don’t scare you, this should! Please do not let Obama sign senior death warrants!!

Everybody that is on this mailing list is either a senior citizen, is
getting close or knows somebody that is.  (true!)

Most of you know by now that the Senate version (at least) of the “stimulus” Bill includes provisions for extensive rationing of health care for senior citizens. (untrue — see comment 4)

The author of this part of the bill, former senator and tax evader, Tom Daschle was credited today by Bloomberg (untrue – see comment 5) with the following statement:

Bloomberg: Daschle says “health-care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.”
(untrue see comment 6)

If this does not sufficiently raise your ire, just remember that our esteemed Senators and Congressmen have their own healthcare plan that is first dollar or very low co-pay which they are guaranteed the remainder of their lives and are not subject to this new law if it passes. (true!)

Please use the power of the Internet to get this message out. Talk it up at the grassroots level.

We have an election coming up in one year and nine months, and we have the ability to address and reverse the dangerous direction the Obama administration and it allies have begun and in the interim, we can make their lives miserable. Lets do this! (see comment 7)

Comment 1: Natasha Richardson fell and hit her head, and refused to be taken by ambulance to the hospital.  No one can be treated if they don’t seek treatment.  Yes, later her husband phoned for help, but by then it was too late.  Could they have taken her by helicopter for help if she had been in the US?  Maybe — but we will never know.  This form of condemnation of Canada’s healthcare system is purely speculation.  No matter what country anyone lives in, they won’t get care if they refuse help.  News articles indicate that helicopters are available for transport in many areas in Canada, but not remote areas.  That is true in the US, too.

Comment 2: I went straight to some doctors in the UK for this answer ( I network with many doctors in England on Twitter.)  They assure me that there is no such policy.  One even asked me “is that a serious question?”

Comment 3: I have scoured the Internet and can find no where where any bona fide news organization has reported that Mr. Obama has made any such statement.  There are blogs, comments and editorials on some news websites, but no hard news anywhere that reports this statement or any statement like it.

Comment 4: The stimulus bill has nothing to do with quality of care or delivery of care.  It does contain $57 billion for development of an electronic medical records system which will eventually cut the cost of care and will improve the safety and delivery of care.  Will rationing take place?  Of course it will.  It already does.  But that has nothing to do with the stimulus bill!

Comment 5: Bloomberg has never quoted Tom Dashle saying any such thing!  I checked in with one of my favorite resources, Politifact and they spell out exactly how this rumor came to be.

Comment 6: In fact, that quote came from Betsy McCaughey in the form of a letter to the editor.  And while I have admired Dr. McCaughey’s work in hospital acquired infections for many years, I believe she is WAY off base by making such a statement.  Inflaming an already contentious argument does not help. (Update: McCaughey is truly going off the deep end, now making statements that the healthcare reform will will make it mandatory for Medicare recipients to go through required counseling to tell them how to end their lives sooner.)

Comment 7: Healthcare reform is going to happen.  We can make it easier on ourselves by dealing in the truth, and helping the cause.  Or we can make it far more difficult on everyone by fearmongering and inflaming.  Sending an email full of half-truths, lies and speculation doesn’t help!  If you truly want to get involved at the grassroots level, then I ask you to instead contact your local congress person and share your feelings about what is important to you.

Read more about the Senior Death Warrant at my blog.


Do you have concerns about healthcare reform?  Have a rumor or concern you want clarified?  Pose it here and we’ll try to uncover the truth.

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Posted in: Health /Medical Consumerism, Health Insurance, Media, Patient Advocacy, Patient Empowerment

Leave a Comment (9) ↓


  1. e-Patient Dave July 9, 2009

    Thank you so much for this, Trisha! You should submit it to as well.

    Don’t you just have to wonder at the motivation of the people who spread crap like this? What is it, insurance companies or the AMA or hospital associations or what?

    Whoever it was, they are (as you make pretty clear) either an uninformed idiot or an outright crook.

    This is a great great post. Thanks.

  2. Claudio Luís Vera (@modulist) July 9, 2009

    My father-in-law (who is a stroke survivor) was living with us until recently. In his confused state, he’d spend his entire day watching FOX News, which would broadcast half-truths and fabrication like this all day long.

    One hour of Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck covering healthcare would contain more outright lies than this. More than once, I’ve been privy to crucial facts that are deliberately left out of Fox’s reportage. My conclusion: once you leave the center, it seems that politics is mostly about bending the truth to match your agenda.

    Now that my father-in-law has left, we’re still receiving his mail, and much of it preys on the gullibility of confused seniors. Sadly, this email is more the norm than the exception.

  3. Sharon Feder July 10, 2009


    Your commitment to acquiring and sharing accurate information is, as always, essential and commendable.

    This example of misinformation is a mirror for how inaccuracies in an individual’s personal medical history can spin dangerous and destructive reactions.

    What a brilliant lesson you have shared with us!

  4. Michael Kirsch, M.D. July 11, 2009

    Of course, this is fearmongering, but I don’t think that the political left has come clean on health reform. Without question, they have no idea what the final cost will be and each week they have another plan on how to pay for it. The House payment plan for the moment is to tax high earning Americans, but the Senate may not be quite so accomodating to this approach. The ultimate costs will be higher than they predict and the promised gains in the system won’t be fully achieved. As a practicing physician, I am dismayed that so little attention has been devoted to preserving and enhancing medical quality. It seems that so much of the discussion is about the money. There is tons of wasted money already in the system that could be used to reform the system. Castigating the political right heals no one.

  5. cory July 12, 2009

    Natasha Richardson fell and hit her head, and refused to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. No one can be treated if they don’t seek treatment. Yes, later her husband phoned for help, but by then it was too late. Could they have taken her by helicopter for help if she had been in the US? Maybe — but we will never know. This form of condemnation of Canada’s healthcare system is purely speculation. No matter what country anyone lives in, they won’t get care if they refuse help. News articles indicate that helicopters are available for transport in many areas in Canada, but not remote areas. That is true in the US, too.

    This analysis is not accurate -“untrue” as it were.
    1. Her husband was not in Tremblant when this happened.
    2. She declined (not refused) care when first seen, common in this type of situation. She was seen again roughly two hours later (unclear that it might have been earlier but the resort is not clarifying their claims) . There were still at least 3-3 1/2 hours to make it to Montreal for definitive care, making the initial “refusal” moot.There was still time for her to receive definitive care
    3. Tremblant is not a “remote” region – it is less than 90 minutes by ambulance from Montreal’s best medical center
    4. Despite the proximity she didn’t make it there until it was too late. Paramedics records indicate that at one half hour after she was put in an ambulance, her neurologic status indicated a 80-90% chance of survival with appropriate care. In less than an hour she would have been in Montreal, probably in the operating room had the system worked.
    5. The helicopter is a nonissue in this case as the ambulance travel time would be about the same as helicopter travel time.
    6. No one in Canada, medical or official spokesmen has addressed the actual medical care she received. no public inquest has eve been released despite the obvious questions.