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Right Turn
Posted at 12:47 PM ET, 03/09/2012

Getting rid of the health-care rationing board

Last month, we called attention to Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), making the case that this is one of many serious flaws in the health-care reform legislation that go well beyond the individual mandate.

House Republicans seem aware of this as well. That is why they are moving along a bill to repeal the IPAB, testing along the way just how many Democrats want to defend the 15-person, unelected panel that is going to be slashing reimbursement fees, and therefore, making some types of care harder or impossible to obtain. The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes, “A straight majority of the House has joined Mr. Roe as co-sponsors—some 234 Members, including 20 Democrats. The bill cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee this week with a vote from its ranking health Democrat and the Ways and Means Committee Thursday, on a voice vote with no recorded objections.”

The IPAB is the ultimate backstop to try to reining in the costs of the gigantic new entitlement. No wonder that when isolated it becomes unpalatable even to some Democrats:

In January, the Congressional Budget Office surveyed the results of every major Medicare demonstration project over the last 20 years. Among 34 programs to reduce hospital admissions, all 34 “had little or no effect on hospital admissions” and “spending was either unchanged or increased relative to the spending that would have occurred in the absence of the program.” Out of four so-called value-based payment programs, only one saved money, and then not that much.

If the IPAB survives, it’s predictable what will occur: It will try small steps and then larger and more onerous ones aimed at reining in costs. And when all those fail, the reimbursement rates will be slashed. The Democrats may declare “rationing” isn’t in the cards, but when health-care providers can’t be adequately reimbursed, they limit or eliminate certain treatment options. And wouldn’t you know it? The White House already is “demand[ing] even more powers for IPAB in its budget, including an automatic sequester.”

Mitt Romney would be wise to join the fight to get rid of IPAB. Nervous Democrats might be more inclined to dump the IPAB before they have to face the voters in November than afterward. Focusing on this unpopular measure (which, by the way, was not part of Romneycare) is one way for Romney to build his bona fides with conservatives and to start taking on the president.

By  |  12:47 PM ET, 03/09/2012

Categories:  Obamacare

 
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