SHOULD WE CALL IT ‘REPUBLICAN-ENCOURAGED EUTHANASIA’?…. A provision in the health care reform bill would, as the NYT put it, “provide Medicare coverage for the work of doctors who advise patients on life-sustaining treatment and ‘end-of-life services,’ including hospice care.” It doesn’t seem especially controversial.

Unless your goal is to deceive the public, that is. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the provision “may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.” Other Republican leaders, including Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Eric Cantor, have repeated the argument, and a wide variety of right-wing lawmakers have told voters the provision might compel the government to kill senior citizens.

Even by conservative standards, the argument is insane. It’s extremely common, and has even “made its way into the standard conservative critique of the Democrats’ reforms,” but it’s not in any way grounded in reality.

Those on the right pushing this may not care about the facts, but maybe they care about partisanship?

[I]t turns out a GOP Senator, Susan Collins, sponsored a virtually identical initiative this spring, before this became an anti-reform GOP talking point — and praised it as necessary to improving our health care system’s “care for patients at the end of their lives.”

This sharply undercuts the GOP and conservative claim — unless, of course, you believe Collins backed an initiative she thinks could lead to mass government extermination of the elderly. Though this talking point has been debunked multiple times, conservatives and GOP leaders like John Boehner continue to employ it with abandon.

Yes, the not-so-radical idea Republicans hope to exploit was crafted, sponsored, and touted by a sitting Republican senator.

Of course, this only matters if those who want to shamelessly mislead the country care about getting caught. Given the rhetoric from opponents of reform, it’s safe to assume they’ll keep repeating the “euthanasia” talking point, regardless of it being wrong, and regardless of its Republican origins.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.