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Smear: Ezekiel Emanuel "Says Medical Care Should Be Reserved For The Nondisabled."

September 17, 2009 9:54 am ET

The right-wing smear machine has claimed Ezekiel Emanuel, Health Policy Adviser at the White House's Office of Management and Budget, favors rationing health care on the basis of age and disability.  This frivolous claim has been soundly debunked by a myriad of reliable sources.


Ezekiel Emanuel "Says Medical Care Should Be Reserved For The Nondisabled. So Watch Out If You're Disabled."

Rep. Michele Bachmann:

The President's adviser, Dr. Emanuel, believes communitarianism should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled. So watch out if you're disabled. [Bachmann Floor Statement via C-SPAN, 7/27/09]


Rep. Michele Bachmann
Betsy McCaughey
Glenn Beck
Fox News

The Truth

PolitiFact Gave Bachmann's Statement A "False." As written by, "Emanuel's hefty medical record also counts for something, as well his unequivocal public position against euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. We rule Bachmann's statement False." [, 7/27/09]

Additionally, PolitiFact wrote:

So the question is, is Emanuel saying that he thinks health services ought not to be guaranteed to patients with dementia?

No, said Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the White House Office of Budget and Management. "He just unequivocally doesn't believe that."

In fact, he said, one need look only as far as the next paragraph:

"Clearly more needs to be done to elucidate what specific health care services are basic; however, the overlap between liberalism and communitarianism points to a way of introducing the good back into medical ethics and devising a principled way of distinguishing basic from discretionary health care services."


"He's a little surprised at how his record is being twisted and turned," Baer said. "It is preposterous that Ezekiel Emanuel would deny care to someone who needed it, or that he believes we should be making the sort of horrific medical decisions he's been accused of."

Some of Emanuel's academic writing is confusing for nonacademics. But Emanuel has also written extensively in more mainstream media - the Atlantic and Wall Street Journal , for example - about his opposition to euthanasia and his belief in appropriate end-of-life care.

Here's a quote from a Jan. 7, 1997, commentary written by Emanuel for the Wall Street Journal : "For the millions of others, legalizing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would be of no benefit. To the contrary, it would be a way of avoiding the complex and arduous efforts required of doctors and other health-care providers to ensure that dying patients receive humane, dignified care." "Emanuel Is Describing The Implications Of A Particular Philosophical Trend, Not Offering A Policy Prescription." According to, "the context makes it clear that Emanuel is describing the implications of a particular philosophical trend, not offering a policy prescription. We'll also note that Emanuel's article actually said that children with learning disabilities should get medical help to ensure that they 'can read and learn to reason.' We're not sure how McCaughey interpreted this to mean that services should be withheld from 'a child with cerebral palsy.'" [, 8/14/09]


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