Originator of False "Death Panel" Rumor Worked with Philip Morris in 1990s to Kill Health Care Reform

The woman credited with originating the false "death panels" claim about health care reform legislation worked with Phillip Morris in the 1990s to derail the Clinton administration's efforts to reform health care, according to the October 1 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Author Tim Dickinson reports that Phillip Morris "worked off-the-record with Manhattan [Institute] and writer Betsy McCaughey as part of the input to the three-part expose in The New Republic on what the Clinton plan means." The information about McCaughey's involvement with Philip Morris was discovered in a March, 1994 PM report titled "Tobacco Strategy." Betsy McCaughey (also known as Elizabeth McCaughey), a conservative commentator who served as former Lieutenant Governor of New York under George Pataki, authored a 1994 article in The New Republic that was widely credited with helping to kill the Clinton-era health reforms. The article was riddled with falsehoods and misinterpretations and The New Republic later retracted her story and published a critique of it, saying "she completely distorted the debate on the biggest public policy issue of 1994." McCaughey had other associations with the tobacco industry: a letter and a check show the Tobacco Institute donated to her victory reception after she was elected Lieutenant Governor. She is also included on a 1998 Philip Morris "Third Party Message Development Contact List". McCaughey appears to be playing a key role in efforts to shut down the Obama administration's efforts to achieve health care reform.


No one ever talks about the REAL death panels, the ones run by insurance companies. They reject life-saving medical procedures just so they can use the money to fill their pockets rather than to save people's lives. Thousands of people die every year because of this. Well, I hope Americans are happy that the evil socialist universal health care bill has once again been defeated. Let us all rejoice, my dear sheep, for the sacred forces of capitalism and the good old "free market" are victorious and we have been saved from such horrors as free health care and being able to choose your own doctor and hospital. And just think about what would have happened to those poor CEOs! No more eight digit salaries, no more cruising around in their fancy corporate jets while eating from plates made of solid gold, and no more buying politicians in order to block legislation that could get in the way of the previous two things. Can you imagine an America without greed? Oh, what a tragedy that would be!

It's notable that McCaughey's employers aren't standing behind her: She had to resign from the board she served on, and recently she's vanished from the web site of the Hudson Institute, which has been her employer ever since she left New York state government. I guess the Hudson Institute doesn't buy her denials....