Mounting Opposition to IPAB from vulnerable Democrats

By Dave Andrusko

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D)

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D)

Last week we ran a story analyzing an op-ed piece that one-time Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean wrote for the Wall Street Journal in which the former Governor of Vermont conceded that the Independent Payment Advisory Board was “essentially a health-care rationing body.”

ObamaCare has been controversial from long before it passed by the narrowest of margins and probably no facet has drawn more critics that the IPAB. National Right to Life laid out the rationing problems that are part and parcel of the IPAB from the very beginning (www.nrlc.org/HealthCareRationing/ObamaHCRationingBasicDOCUMENTATION.pdf). Thus it was helpful that Dean admitted there really was an elephant in the room—the fact that “The IPAB will cause frustration to providers” and won’t accomplish what it purports to do.

In a piece written by Elise Viebeck, The Hill newspaper reported “ObamaCare ‘death panel’ faces growing opposition from Dems.” The “death panel” is, of course, a reference to how former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin characterized the IPAB.

Among IPAB’s growing legion of critics (like Dean, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association want IPAB repealed) are several vulnerable House and Senate Democrats up for re-election next year, Viebeck reports. These Democrats say the IPAB will who say “it will harm people on Medicare.”

Which, among other things, is exactly what Dean wrote. The IPAB “sets doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price” and therefore, Dean continued. “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.”

Exactly.

That’s bad enough but it doesn’t even address what NRLC almost alone has written about over and over again—the crucial limitations on what citizens can pay for out of their own pockets. See, for example “Even critics of ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board Miss Its Worst Rationing” where we noted

As documented with specific quotes from the legislation, the Obama Health Care Law specifically directs the board to make “recommendations to slow the growth in national health expenditures” for private – not just governmentally fund– dollars devoted to health care. These recommendations are supposed to limit what ordinary citizens and their health insurance coverage can pay for medical treatment to force it below the rate of medical inflation.

To implement these recommendations, the federal Department of Health and Human Services is empowered to impose so-called “quality” and “efficiency” measures on health care providers. Doctors who violate a “quality” standard by prescribing more life-saving medical treatment than it permits will be disqualified from contracting with any of the health insurance plans that individual Americans, under the Obama Health Care Law, will be mandated to purchase. Few doctors would be able to remain in practice if subjected to that penalty.

This means that treatment that a doctor and patient deem advisable to save that patient’s life or preserve or improve the patient’s health, but which exceeds the standard imposed by the government, will be denied even if the patient is willing and able to pay for it.

You can read Viebeck’s story here.