False: Bill Gates told world leaders at the G20 summit that 'death panels' will soon be required.

By: Ishita Goel
February 7 2023

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False: Bill Gates told world leaders at the G20 summit that 'death panels' will soon be required.


The Verdict False

Bill Gates has been misquoted from a 2010 interview to claim that at the G20 summit in 2022, he spoke about the looming requirement of death panels.

Claim ID 1efcc258


Social media posts from November 2022 carrying what appears to be a screenshot of an article about the Microsoft co-founder have resurfaced on social media. "Bill Gates Tells G20 World Leaders That 'Death Panels' Will Soon Be Required," reads the screenshot of one such Facebook post from November 19. Accompanied by a photo of Gates speaking, the rest of the article visible in the screenshot reads: "Unelected world health czar Bill Gates has used his appearance at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia to raise a discussion about 'death panels...According to Gates, death panels will be necessary in the near future in order to end the lives of sick and unwell people due to 'very very high medical costs.'" 

However, Gates did not attend the G20 summit in Bali, and other remarks have been taken out of context. 

In Fact

The original article is from the misinformation blog NewsPunch. While the image in the article and the blurb did not match that seen in the viral post, the story claims that Gates had stated that "death panels" would be a necessity in the near future. 

The original comments come from the Aspel Institute Ideas Festival, held in Colorado in July of 2010, where Gates was speaking on a panel. Only five months prior to Gates' appearance on the panel, the U.S. had passed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It was intended to bring down the price of healthcare and extend coverage to uninsured people. One of the criticisms of that legislation, popularized by Alaskan politician Sarah Palin, was that socialized medicine would lead to "death panels" where the government would be able to decide whether to extend or end palliative care, i.e., "pull the plug on Grandma." There was no truth to this idea, but it became a major talking point of political discourse in 2010 and during the rest of Obama's tenure. PolitiFact rated claims about ACA "death panels" as its "Lie of the Year" in 2009.

Gates does not say that death panels are a necessity or that they should be implemented. Rather, he is speaking about how state governments choose to allocate spending. Footage of the panel, published by event video production company FORA.tv, shows Gates in a conversation with Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, responding to a question about whether the proportion of GDP going to healthcare is over-allocated. Text inside the video shows that the conversation was recorded on July 8, 2010. Gates said that spending on healthcare "squeezes out" everything else, including higher education. He then says there is a lack of willingness to discuss whether it would be worth laying off ten teachers to spend a million dollars on the last three months of a patient's life. "But that's called the death panel, and you're not supposed to have that discussion," he concludes. 

An article published by The Aspen Times on July 9, 2010, about Gates's ideas at the festival similarly reported that Gates pointed out that the U.S. must reexamine its funding priorities and medical costs. In context, it's clear that he is talking about the U.S.'s relative weakness compared to other wealthy nations to get better-quality healthcare for a smaller percentage of GDP. 

Further, Gates did not attend the G20 summit held in Bali on November 15 and 16, 2022. No documents from the G20 event mention Gates as an attendee or speaker. Instead, Gates was in Kenya during the event. The Kenyan Wallstreet reported that Gates arrived in Nairobi on November 15, and Reuters reported that he met Kenyan President William Ruto on November 16. This shows that Bill Gates was not at G20, and his words were taken out of context from a 2010 interview. 

The Verdict

Gates talked about funding in the education and medical sector in the U.S. in 2010 and mentioned death panels in passing. Statements from his interview are being circulated falsely without context, claiming that Gates spoke about the requirement of death panels at the G20 2022 summit. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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