One of the strategies for correcting misperceptions that I've proposed is to locate experts from the same side of the aisle who might be especially credible to the misinformed. An August 2009 article by Kate Snow at ABC News, for instance, emphasized that "even those who do not support the version of the health care reform bill now being discussed -- note that [the "death panel"] accusations are shocking, inflammatory and incorrect." However, while a few Republicans in Congress quietly admitted that "death panels" are a myth, the number of conservatives who have done so is relatively small.
With this context in mind, I was thrilled to discover that Cato's Michael Tanner had published a pamphlet (PDF) opposing the health care reform law that makes the intellectually honest distinction between future rationing (likely) and "death panels" (fictitious):
Clearly the trajectory of U.S. health care spending under this law is unsustainable. Therefore, it raises the inevitable question of whether it will lead to rationing down the road.
We should be clear, however. With a few minor exceptions governing Medicare reimbursements, the law would not directly ration care or allow the government to dictate how doctors practice medicine. There is no “death panel” as Sarah Palin once wrote about in her Facebook posting. Even so, by setting in place a structure of increased utilization and rising costs, the new law makes government rationing far more likely in the future.
As Tanner's argument illustrates, it's possible to oppose the law and to believe it will lead to rationing in the future without engaging in demagoguery about "death panels." If more conservatives were willing to make this distinction, maybe the myth wouldn't be so persistent.