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Fact check: No, Bill Gates didn’t tell G-20 leaders ‘death panels’ will soon be required

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The claim: Bill Gates told G-20 leaders that ‘death panels’ will soon be necessary

When the leaders of the Group of 20 – an international organization that brings together representatives of the world’s biggest economies – met for their annual summit earlier this month, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominated many conversations.

Some social media users, though, are claiming Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates spoke at the event and predicted “death panels” would soon be necessary because of the high cost of health care.

“Bill Gates tells G-20 world leaders that ‘death panels’ will soon be required,” reads the headline of a Nov. 15 article by News Punch, a website that has previously published misinformation.

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“Unelected world health czar Bill Gates has used his appearance at the G-20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, to raise a discussion about ‘death panels,’” the article says. “According to Gates, death panels will be necessary in the near future to end the lives of sick and unwell people due to ‘very, very high medical costs.’”

Nov. 17 Instagram post includes a screenshot of the article and a video of Gates speaking about the cost of end-of-life health care. 

But the claim is false. Gates was not present at the recent G-20 meeting. The video in the post is from 2010 and does not show Gates saying death panels would “soon be required.”

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News Punch did not respond to a request for comment. The social media user who shared the post could not be reached for comment.

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Gates did not appear at G-20 meeting

Gates did not attend the recent G-20 summit, Karin Neighorn, a spokesperson for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told USA TODAY.

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Neighorn also said Gates has not announced that death panels would soon be necessary.

“That claim is false,” he said.

The video in the post is a clip of Gates talking at a 2010 event hosted by the Aspen Institute. Gates briefly mentions death panels while responding to a question about the cost of education and health care.

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Death panels was a term used by opponents of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and it referred to decision-making bodies that would determine the fate of critically ill patients. These cost-cutting panels were made up, though; Obama never proposed creating them. 

In the video, Gates says there is “a lack of willingness to say, ‘Is spending a million dollars on that last three months of life for that patient, would it be better not to lay off those 10 teachers and to make that trade-off in medical costs?’ But that’s called the death panel and you’re not supposed to have that discussion.”

Gates makes no other mention of death panels in the video and never predicts, as the post claims, that they will soon be necessary.

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USA TODAY has debunked other claims about Gates, including baseless assertions that he was arrested by the U.S. military on sex trafficking charges, worked on a way to block the sun’s rays to fight climate change and tried to put microchips in people with COVID-19 vaccines.

The Associated Press and PolitiFact also debunked the claim.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Gates told G-20 leaders that “death panels” will soon be necessary. Gates did not attend or speak at this year’s G-20 summit. In addition, the video of Gates used to support the claim is from 2010, and while it shows him mentioning death panels, he does not predict they will “soon be required.”

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Our fact-check sources:

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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