Howard Dean concedes that the Independent Payment Advisory Board is “essentially a health-care rationing body”

By Dave Andrusko

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D)

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D)

Former governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal this morning that truly qualifies as a “must-read.”

The headline and the subhead tell you the thrust of his argument—“The Affordable Care Act’s Rate-Setting Won’t Work: Experience tells me the Independent Payment Advisory Board will fail.”

Excuse me, what did Dean just say? That the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)–which NRLC has criticized repeatedly and at great length– is “essentially a health-care rationing body.” It “sets doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price” and therefore “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.”

Dean matter of factly states “rate setting—the essential mechanism of the IPAB—has a 40-year track record of failure,” a statement that Dean extrapolates to the IPAB by writing that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office“ has indicated that the IPAB, in its current form, won’t save a single dime before 2021.”

And for good measure, Dean concludes

“The IPAB will cause frustration to providers and patients alike, and it will fail to control costs.”

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 note

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.

Be sure to read Dean’s op-ed.