Et Tu Democrats?
The progressives all laughed at Sarah Palin when she called the Medicare Independent Advisory Board (IPAB) a "death panel." But as we draw closer to Obamacare becoming a reality (and closer to the 2014 elections) Many Democrats are beginning to get a bit nervous about IPAB.
Last week former DNC head Howard Dean wrote an op-ed in the WSJ urging the softening of the IPAB's heath care rationing powers:
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.When a progressive such as Howard Dean who worships at the alter of big government, complains that something will become too bureaucratic one has to listen.
Vulnerable Democrats in the house and senate are looking to make IPAB impotent. Over the past three months Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Reps. Ron Barber (Ariz.), Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Elizabeth Esty (Conn.) have all endorsed bills repealing the board's powers.
All five are considered vulnerable in next year’s elections, highlighting the stakes and the political angst surrounding the healthcare measure.
The four House Democrats faced criticism from their party in July after voting with Republicans to delay ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates — moves widely interpreted as political positioning ahead of 2014.
Two of the lawmakers explained their opposition by suggesting the board would limit care for Medicare patients.
...The Senate and House measures currently have 32 and 192 cosponsors, respectively, including 22 Dems in the House. Cosponsors include lawmakers like John Barrow (D-Ga.), a longtime GOP target.Under Obamacare IPAB is prevented from making recommendations that would ration care. However by lowering the payments allowed to providers, the panel's recommendation would have the same effect. Certain treatments will only be available to those who can pay for it on an out-of-pocket basis.
Even before this group of politicians began to get nervous about IPAB, Robert Gibbs, former Obama Press Secretary told Chris Wallace that the death panel did indeed exist:
Wallace: And the Medicare actuary concludes - this is his quote - in practice Medicare providers could not sustain continued negative margins and, absent legislative changes, would have to withdraw - withdraw - from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries, merge with other provider groups or shift substantial portions of the Medicare costs it to their non-Medicare non-Medicaid providers. In other words, according to the actuary, Medicare patients, millions of them will lose access to Medicare benefits."The panel (IPAB) itself was not created in the Obamacare bill...it was part of the stimulus bill passed the previous year. The Obamacare legislation gave the panel its powers.
Robert Gibbs: "If Medicare companies that are involved in the program continue doing what they are doing, which is inefficient."
Wallace: "Wait a minute. The actuary says, in practice, Medicare providers could not sustain continuing negative margins."
Gibbs: "If Medicare providers continue to do what we are doing. Right now, under the old program, Chris, if a senior got readmitted over and over and over to the hospital for the same illness, they got paid every single time the senior got admitted into the hospital. Why not strengthen the benefit by adding preventive health care to it and trying to ensure that the patient gets accountable care and treated before they get that disease."
Wallace: "If the providers don't do it, then what happens is, under your plan, this unelected board, 15 bureaucrats come in and they decide what, well, you are laughing at it but that is it. The IPAB."
Gibbs: "I guess I am laughing at your characterization of it."
Wallace: "Are they an elected board?"
Gibbs: "They are medical professionals, they are people we trust to make medical decisions."
It's beyond that these Democratic-party legislators pushed through a take-over of our heath care system without understanding what was in it (or even caring). It is even more amazing that their participation in Obamacare will be subsidized by our tax dollars. The entire lot of them should be voted out of office.