Taking Up Huckabee’s Challenge

It seems that Mike Huckabee is battling back against those criticizing his claim from last week in which he said that Sen. Ted Kennedy would have been told to go home and die under President Obama’s healthcare reform plan:

In his weekend Fox News show “Huckabee,” the 2008 Republican presidential candidate said his remarks were overblown and taken out of context.

“I spoke on my radio show and pointed out that when Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he chose to fight with all that was within him and to do that for life instead of choosing the pain pill that President Obama spoke of in his answer to James Stern during his White House town hall meeting,” Huckabee said.“George Stephanopoulos, Time magazine, Huffington Post and scores are liberal bloggers have gone berserk, saying I have made things up.”

Huckabee then challenged the media outlets that covered the comment.

“What did I say that wasn’t true?” he asked. “Listen to what I said. It was actually a tribute to Senator Kennedy and an observation that he did what Americans would want to do, follow the best healthcare they can find.”

Well, since we covered his comment, allow us to take up his challenge and point out exactly what wasn’t true.

Here’s what Huckabee said:

“[I]t was President Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don’t have as long to live might want to consider just taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them,” said Huckabee. “Yet when Sen. Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 77, did he give up on life and go home to take pain pills and die? Of course not. He freely did what most of us would do. He choose an expensive operation and painful follow up treatments. He saw his work as vitally important and so he fought for every minute he could stay on this earth doing it. He would be a very fortunate man if his heroic last few months were what future generations remember him most for.”

And here is what President Obama actually said:

[E]nd-of-life care is one of the most difficult, sensitive decisions we’re going to have to make. I don’t want bureaucracies making those decisions. But understand that those decisions are already being made in one way or another. If they’re not being made under Medicare and Medicaid, they’re being made by private insurers. We don’t always make those decisions explicitly. We often make those decisions by just letting people run out of money or making the deductibles too high or the out-of-pocket expenses so onerous that they just can’t afford the care.

And all we’re suggesting — and we’re not going to solve every difficult problem in terms of end-of-life care; a lot of that is going to have to be we as a culture and as a society starting to make better decisions within our own families and for ourselves. But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that’s not making anybody’s mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know, and your mom know, that you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help, maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller [emphasis added].

Obviously, the President was talking about situations where further medical treatment is unlikely to provide any medical benefit to the patient, not situations where, as Huckabee claimed, there was some operation available that would cure them that they couldn’t have because the President wants them to just take a pill and go home to die.

So here, specifically, is the part that is not true:

“Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don’t have as long to live might want to consider just taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them.”

It also just so happened to be the foundation of his entire claim.