A rising chorus of repeal-mongers, outraged at the Obama administration’s federal health care power grab, took over Washington this week. Nope, it’s not the tea party. It’s Democrats Against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yes, Democrats.
According to Politico, “New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, has zero interest in defending the board. ‘I’ve never supported it, and I would certainly be in favor of abolishing it.’” If that’s not clear enough, Pallone added that he’s “opposed to independent commissions or outside groups playing a role other than on a recommendatory basis.” Period.
Another House Democrat, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, is one of seven Democratic IPAB repeal co-sponsors and is scheduled to testify Wednesday at a second House hearing blasting the board. And former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt channeled the tea party in a recent op-ed when he decried IPAB as “an unelected and unaccountable group whose sole charge is to reduce Medicare spending based on an arbitrary target growth rate.”
Over the past two years, Governor Palin has been a consistent voice of opposition against such panels or boards who may play a role in health care decision making that would ultimately lead to rationing of care. In August of 2009, she warned against rationing of care by an unelected "death panel":
The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
In September of 2009, Governor Palin wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal warning of the government overreach of such a panel:
Now look at one way Mr. Obama wants to eliminate inefficiency and waste: He's asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council—an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of "normal political channels," should guide decisions regarding that "huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . ."
Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through "normal political channels," they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we've come to expect from this administration.
Likely largely due to Governor Palin's warning, the End of Life counseling provision in the health care reform bill was dropped in the summer of 2009. Additionally, in the final version of the Obamacare bill, the advisory board was re-named the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB). This board is made up of 15 individuals appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, which hardly makes them independent. If anything, the only thing they are independent of is accountability to the electorate. A policy analyst for the Independent Women's Foundation writes of IPAB at Townhall:
Each year, the CMS director will submit to IPAB the per-capita growth rate in Medicare and the target per-capita growth rate. Undoubtedly, as health care costs continue on their upward spiral (fueled by government regulations), the growth rate will be higher than the target rate. The mission of IPAB will be to make the two rates match, by drafting a proposal for changes to the Medicare program. This proposal will become law unless Congress, by supermajority in both houses, votes to stop the proposal and comes up with its own plan to match IPAB’s savings.
That's right. In approving IPAB by voting for Obamacare, Congress essentially ceded their power to a board of unelected bureaucrats as an attempt to control health care costs by way of rationing. However, as Governor Palin referenced in her "death panel" Facebook post, this does not control costs, it only means that the federal government is refusing to the pay the cost. There is no doubt that this sort of backwards thinking by those who support such boards contributed to Governor Palin's support for Congressman Paul Ryan's roadmap, as Governor Palin wrote this past December:
It [President Obama’s deficit commission] also implicitly endorses the use of "death panel"-like rationing by way of the new Independent Payments Advisory Board—making bureaucrats, not medical professionals, the ultimate arbiters of what types of treatment will (and especially will not) be reimbursed under Medicare.
On health care, it [Congressman Ryan’s Roadmap] would replace ObamaCare with a new system in which people are given greater control over their own health-care spending. It achieves this partly through creating medical savings accounts and a new health-care tax credit—the only tax credit that would be left in a radically simplified new income tax system that people can opt into if they wish
Here is Congressman Paul Ryan discussing IPAB's overreach of bureaucratic power, price controls, lack of choice, and health care rationing--the very things Governor Palin has also objected to-- yesterday at the House Budget Committee meeting:
In Governor Palin's objection to rationing, health care panels, she has shown her consistent conservatism on two levels--sanctity of life and smaller government. In her objection to "death panels", she had shown that the concept of sanctity of life not only applies to opposition to abortion, but also applies to ensuring that life is valued after one is born for seniors and those with special needs, regardless of what Obama administration health care advisers like Ezekiel Emmanuel deem appropriate via what they call "distributive justice". Governor Palin also has stood firmly against increased federal power in making health care decisions.The Obama administration should not be engaging in continuing twisting of the branches of government where executive branch boards are undertaking the role of Congress in managing Medicare funds, nor the role of patients and doctors in managing one's health care. Just as there should not be redistribution of wealth, there should not be redistribution of health as well. It is high time the Democrats realize this too.