A town hall for Republican congresscritter Gus Bilirakis in New Port Richey, Florida, didn’t go so great on Saturday! The crowd who’d come to tell Bilirakis to please not dismantle the Affordable Care Act didn’t even listen to some simple common sense about the ACA from Bill Akins, the secretary of the Pasco county Republican executive committee. All Akins did was explain to the crowd that there’s this requirement that everyone go before a Death Panel when they turn 74, and that is a real thing about Obamacare, and why were they all jeering at him for telling them the simple facts?
Here’s the problems I have with The Affordable Health Care Act. Number one, there is a provision in there that anyone over the age of 74 has to go before what is effectively a death panel. [crowd erupts in boos, jeers] Yes, they do. Yes, they do. It’s in there, folks.
As the crowd continued to mock his perfectly accurate alternative fact, Akins shouted back, “You’re wrong!” and “OK, children, all right, children…” after which he presumably threatened to turn the community center right around and go home.
Do we actually need to point out that there never were “Death Panels” in the ACA, and that the whole thing was a ridiculous lie — Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” for 2009 — popularized by Knower of Things Sarah Palin? In mere reality, the ACA bill included a provision to provide “end of life planning” for people who wanted to discuss with their doctor living wills and whether they wanted hospice care in case of a terminal illness, which of course, according to wingnut crazy person Betsy McCaughey, meant Obama really wanted everyone to be euthanized when they went on Medicare. And somehow, despite years of debunking, there are at least some Republicans who still either believe in death panels, or think they can scare people with the notion. But don’t make fun of them for believing in the death panel boogeyman! That sort of condescension is why people voted for Trump! Oh, dear, we’ve done it again, like a bunch of elitist fact-believers, and now he’ll be reelected in 2020, sorry.
Clearly hypnotized by Obama’s Illuminati mind-control techniques to believe that “end of life planning” is actually somehow a good thing, a woman in the crowd called Akins A Idiot, only a little nicer than that:
“I am 77 years old and I think it’s unconscionable for this politician to tell me that at 74, I will be facing death panels,” she said. “Wrong, wrong, wrong.”
Akins couldn’t believe how willing this poor deluded lady was, just willing to go into Obama’s gas chambers like that, and yelled back, “I’m on your side!” But did she apologize to the nice man who simply wanted to keep Barack Obama from euthanizing her? She did not.
CNN reports Rep. Bilirakis tried to explain that Akins was actually right, since there is an “Independent Payment Advisory Board” panel that recommends ways to reduce Medicare costs, and obviously, that’s a death panel — Bilirakis is very proud that he’s voted to eliminate it, even. The Payment Advisory Board does not, of course, actually tell old people they have to die, but it really is a panel, so it has to be a death panel:
“The board exists, OK? And I’ve voted to repeal the board,” Bilirakis told CNN afterward when asked about the “death panels” talk.
As the event ended, Akins even got into a shouting match with an audience member, citing Bilirakis to prove there really are death panels:
"You called me a liar. The congressman said the death panel does exist." #Bilirakis
The man on the left is a local GOP official. pic.twitter.com/KZC0lYndgI
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) February 11, 2017
“You called me a liar. The congressman said the death panel does exist,” Akins said as sheriff’s deputies stepped in to separate the men.
Still, the town hall did at least give constituents a chance to tell Bilirakis how the ACA has actually helped them, and hasn’t killed them at all; Brian Staver explained that his daughter, now 14, was born with a rare genetic disorder that had cost their family thousands of dollars to treat before the ACA went into effect, but thanks to Obamacare, he said, “She is now able to get the medication she needs to save her life.” Apparently, neither Akins nor Bilirakis tried to insist the young woman was actually condemned to death by the death panels, which seems like a missed opportunity.
Bilirakis said he still intends to vote to repeal the ACA and replace it with something that will keep all the parts people like while getting rid of taxes and subsidies and the individual mandate, because he appears to have no actual clue about how insurance works:
“It just confirms that a lot of these provisions, such as the pre-existing conditions, keeping the (people under) 26 years old on their parents’ plans, the (ban on) lifetime caps — these are bipartisan issues and they need to be included in the replacement.”
To his credit, however, he did at least tell CNN that he believed “the majority of the people in the room were my constituents,” which makes Gus Bilirakis less delusional than Jason Chaffetz, who insisted the Obamacare supporters at his town hall in Utah were all paid to be there. Sadly, “saner than Jason Chaffetz” is not much of a prize.