Americans are foolish to believe rhetoric about so-called "death panels" determining end-of-life care being in healthcare reform legislation before Congress, one Democratic lawmaker said Sunday.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) scoffed at concerns about end-of-life provision in healthcare bills under consideration, and defended the public (or "government-run") option, a centerpiece of the proposed law, as "hardly a radical idea."

"Some people have foolishly fallen for the myth that a 'death panel' would somehow decide when you must die, or that the new plan would provide coverage for illegal aliens," Slaughter wrote in an op-ed for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "None of that is true."

Some Republicans, most notably former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had described end-of-life care provisions in the bills as establishing "death panels" to mandate rationed care for elderly Americans.

Slaughter is a strong proponent of the public option, but said it is "too early" to pledge to vote against any bill that doesn't contain the plan, backed by the Obama administration and liberals in Congress.

Some of Slaughter's colleagues, including many more liberal members of the New York congressional delegation, have threatened to jilt President Obama on healthcare if he backs a bill lacking a public plan.

Still, the veteran lawmaker from western New York defended the public option as a mainstream -- and already effective -- solution for healthcare problems in the U.S.