Via Media Matters. This is even more shocking than the usual misleading Fox News coverage. This is an outright lie, manufactured by someone treated as credible by the rest of the media. But don't worry, I'm positive it will be covered in depth on all the other networks! (Not.)
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace repeatedly cropped quotes from a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) document to falsely suggest that the Obama administration is pressuring veterans to end their lives prematurely and to accuse Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth of lying about it. In fact, contrary to Wallace's false assertions, the document he referred to does not require doctors to direct veterans to what conservatives have labeled the "Death Book for Veterans."
WALLACE: If I may, Ms. Duckworth, because we have limited time here --
WALLACE: Why would a question -- I can understand questions about if you're in an irreversible coma, do you want us to pull the plug. But why -- as I asked Mr. Towey -- why would you even have a question in an end-of-life plan-- counseling book about, "If you're in a wheelchair, if you're living in a nursing home, does that make life worth living?"
DUCKWORTH: Well, I know that before I was injured, I certainly let my husband know that, you know, being in a wheelchair was something that I feared and I was afraid for, but that I also wanted my life prolonged. This is a tool. This is a simple tool that was put into place, as I said, under Secretary [Jim] Nicholson. It was something that was used throughout -- and let me make a correction. We've not used it since 2007, when under the Bush administration, we decided to go ahead and revise it.
This checklist is still under revision on a timetable according to a program that was actually decided on under the previous administration. Because I know that President Bush and Secretary Nicholson and Secretary [James] Peake all valued life. And that's what we're doing, is we're revising it. It will be out in 2010. It's not yet out. So Mr. Towey was not correct by saying --
WALLACE: Secretary Duckworth, that's just not true. The VHA put out a directive on July 2, 2009, and I want to put up two pages from that directive. The first one, Page 8. "Primary care practitioners are responsible for giving patients pertinent educational materials, e.g., refer patients to the 'Your Life, Your Choices' module." And on Page 9, it says if they request more information, "patients may be directed to the exercises in 'Your Life, Your Choices.' "
So, as of July 2, 2009 -- last month, more than a month ago -- VA health practitioners were told to refer all veterans -- not just end-of-life veterans, but all 24 million veterans -- to this document, "Your Life, Your Choices."
DUCKWORTH: Let me make a correction there, Chris. What our practitioners were told is to refer patients to any type of a tool. They can use Mr. Towey's if they want to spend the $5 apiece. VA simply was not willing to buy his booklet at $5 per veteran at the time.
WALLACE: But how do you explain --
DUCKWORTH: This is a decision that was made by the previous administration.
WALLACE: It doesn't say, "Give them access to anything." I mean, in the specific VA booklet -- it's only about 15 pages long -- it specifically refers to this booklet twice.
DUCKWORTH: The only directive that is out there is actually left over from -- I believe it was beginning of 2007, our advanced planning directive put into place, and it is actually very clear in saying that we need to provide veterans with information that they can make on how they want their care.
You know, this ultimately is about the care and health care for veterans, and we're actually expanding benefits for veterans. We're actually trying to get more priority aid veterans to sign up for VA benefits. We estimate it will be another 500,000 veterans coming in for benefits. We are expanding VA benefits to veterans. It is in our best interest to make sure that every veteran out there receives the care and access to the treatments and everything that he needs. Because after all, these are the men and women who fought for us and fought -- and they deserve nothing less than the best care.
DUCKWORTH: Chris, it has not been reinstated. Let me make it clear: The only advanced directive that we have is dated February of 2007. And it actually encourages veterans to use any type of tool or checklist they would like to. There are many, many good ones out there. This "Your Life, Your Choice" [sic] is widely used out there, not just within VA. There are many others that are out there. And veterans are free to use whatever they would like to use. We just urge them to use them.
WALLACE: Let me -- I mean, I just -- I have a problem here. And often -- too often on these shows, we just say, "One person said, and another person said." Secretary Duckworth, I don't know if we're able in the control room to put up the full screen of the VHA directive, but I'd like you to put up the first full screen if you can.
In the VHA directive of July 2, 2009, it says the following on Page 8: "Primary care practitioners are responsible for giving patients pertinent educational materials, e.g., refer patients to the 'Your Life, Your Choices' module." I mean, it's just there in black and white on the VHA directive of July 2.
DUCKWORTH: Chris, I'm sorry. I can't see that on a monitor in here. I will tell you that I know for a fact that the only directive signed by Secretary [Eric] Shinseki -- I mean, signed by a VA secretary -- was actually signed by Secretary Nicholson, and it's dated February of 2007. What you're looking at may not actually be a directive. So I -- since I can't see it -- I'd be happy to come back and discuss it with you.