Remember when Democrats mercilessly mocked Sarah Palin’s comments about ‘Death Panels’? Turns out she was right, at least according to Howard Dean and the more than 20 Democrats who have signed on to bills repealing the powers of the Independent Payment Advisory Board to effectively ration health care for seniors.
While the IPAB isn’t a literal ‘Death Panel’ deciding who lives and dies on case by case basis, the practical effects of its rate setting and rationing powers will ultimately make it just that — a death panel. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean admitted as much in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed on July 28.
Mr. Dean’s Op-Ed starts with the usual Democrat party, Republicans are evil, Obamacare is awesome, talking points, but he eventually get to the heart of the matter:
That said, the law still has its flaws, and American lawmakers and citizens have both an opportunity and responsibility to fix them.
One major problem is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB is essentially a health-care rationing body. By setting doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price, the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them.There does have to be control of costs in our health-care system. However, rate setting—the essential mechanism of the IPAB—has a 40-year track record of failure. What ends up happening in these schemes (which many states including my home state of Vermont have implemented with virtually no long-term effect on costs) is that patients and physicians get aggravated because bureaucrats in either the private or public sector are making medical decisions without knowing the patients. Most important, once again, these kinds of schemes do not control costs. The medical system simply becomes more bureaucratic.
Republicans have opposed the IPAB from the beginning, arguing that it gives too much power to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Now it seems a small but growing number of Democrats are objecting to it too, although for different reasons, arguing that the IPAB would “limit care for Medicare patients”… I could be cruel and say : “Well duh, that’s what you idiots wanted it to do”, but I won’t.
Anyway, the main arguments Obamacare supporters use in defending the IPAB seem to boil down to arguing it doesn’t have as much power over Medicare as critics are saying. Or that it’s better than the old way of doing things, where Congress would simply slash Medicare reimbursements for providers.
The simple truth is change doesn’t mean it’s a change for the better. Mr. Dean is right when he says “Getting rid of the IPAB is something Democrats and Republicans ought to agree on.”
Personally, I’d argue Obamacare is deeply flawed, overly complex law that will eventually collapse under its own weight and it should be repealed it total.