Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich says former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was unfairly criticized when she suggested government bureaucrats would have control over life-and-death decisions on "death panels."

The former House speaker on Tuesday said Palin's suggestions were dismissed without due consideration as Congress weighed President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Palin suggested Democrats would implement government controls over health care, which could deny care for older and ill Americans.

Those panels were not part of the law, but Gingrich says Washington already has too much say in allocating medical care.

Gingrich made his comments during the Bloomberg-Washington Post debate held at Dartmouth College.