By Bob Bennett
Sarah Palin was vilified for coining the term “death panels,” then it was found that ObamaCare had established a real death panel, to oversee Medicare. It’s called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). But a little-publicized provision in ObamaCare gives the IPAB unprecedented powers over Americans of all ages.
When America sees those powers in action, we will all marvel at the colossal effrontery of Roberts, the Democrats and the street organizer from nowhere, who have fraudulently imposed this “health care reform” on the American people. And they’ll blame Republicans for not getting rid of IPAB.
It’s no surprise that Obama created such a board, as he and his uber-Left cabal are infatuated with the British health care system, which was reportedly the model for the IPAB. The British system—which covers all health care for its citizens, is notorious for limiting access to care to cut costs—better known as rationing. What the UK does is a clue to what Obama intends for Americans.
Death Panel Math
The Brits call their rationing system the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or “NICE.” But it isn’t nice at all. It restricts use of life-saving drugs by a cold-blooded system called “QALY”: Quality-Adjusted Life Years. Calculations are based on how many years of life might be gained by the use of a drug, factoring in age and quality of life.
The first warning of Obama’s intentions was in 2010 when he appointed one of his geniuses, Dr. Donald Berwick, to administer the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick has since resigned under fire, for lovelorn paeans to the British National Health Service like: “Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must – must – redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer….” and “I am romantic about the NHS; I love it.”
Socialistic Devaluing of Life
America does not fully realize the extent of the fraud Obama’s masterminds have perpetrated on her. The cancellation of 5 million-plus policies people wanted was only the beginning. ObamaCare, when up and running, will be driven by standards utterly alien to Americans, who are accustomed to saving human life at all cost—an instinct prevailing since man first stood erect. Even Neanderthals (who were not exactly human) are known to have taken care of their elderly and sick.
It’s Rationing, Pure and Simple
Thursday’s Wall Street Journal editorial, tells us:
The law says IPAB cannot ration care, but by reducing payments beyond what any doctor will accept, the result will be rationing, nonetheless.
“Like NICE, IPAB will ration care by brute force rather than let patients and doctors make decisions. This comports with ObamaCare’s core premise that people can’t be entrusted with their own health care.”
The WSJ also reports, “Unlike at other federal agencies, IPAB’s diktats automatically take effect with no formal rule-making. Its recommendations also aren’t subject to judicial or administrative review.”
In other words, when IPAB makes a recommendation for controlling Medicare costs, it just becomes law—without a vote of Congress. Does this sound just a mite unconstitutional?
Moreover, IPAB’s provisions raise constitutional questions over whether a law can bind future Congresses. Stanley Kurtz writing in National Review, said:
“The basic principle is that IPAB’s recommendations will have the force of law unless they are countered by Congress. And Obamacare makes them exceedingly difficult to counter. Congress can modify IPAB’s decisions through its ordinary procedures only if Congress’s total Medicare expenditures do not exceed IPAB’s recommended levels. It takes a three-fifths supermajority of the Senate to waive these restrictions.”
The Weekly Standard wrote:
“IPAB possesses the raw power to force Congress to legislate via its “fast track authority”; IPAB’s financial targets must be enacted into law by August 15 of each year, beginning in 2014. [IPAB has not yet been activated.] Not only that, if Congress refuses to legislate the level of cost containment demanded by IPAB (or if the president vetoes the bill), IPAB’s original recommendation is automatically imposed.
In other words, IPAB’s cost-cutting word is law. And if that isn’t enough: Congress can’t dissolve IPAB until [a window in] 2017—and then only by a supermajority vote of both houses.”
How could this be constitutional? Stanley Kurtz continues:
“As [a] Goldwater Institute’s anti-IPAB suit puts it: ‘Congress has no constitutional power to delegate nearly unlimited legislative power to any federal executive branch agency, much less to entrench health care legislation against review, debate, revision or repeal.’”
Powers Menacing All Americans
But this doesn’t begin to describe the menacing powers of this board. It not only controls the life and health of seniors—but also limits what Americans of all ages can spend of their own money for treatments that could be lifesaving. Lifenews.com reports:
“The health care law instructs the IPAB to make recommendations to limit what all Americans are legally allowed to spend for their health care to hold it below the rate of medical inflation,” National Right to Life lawyer, Jennifer Popik says.
“The health care law then empowers the federal Department of Health and Human Services to implement these recommendations by imposing so-called ‘quality’ and ‘efficiency’ measures on health care providers,” Popik continues.
“Doctors who violate a ‘quality’ standard by prescribing more lifesaving 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.”
IPAB Must Be Repealed
“‘Repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is critical to prevent the rationing of life-saving medical treatment,’ said Burke Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics. ‘The IPAB would recommend drastic limits for the Department of Health and Human Services to impose on what Americans are allowed to spend out of their own funds to save their own lives and the lives of their families.’” [Emphasis mine.]
To its credit, the House voted last week to kill IPAB, 244-154 (H.R.1190). Eleven Democrats joined in voting to repeal.
But, if Congress really means to eliminate this unlawful travesty it will need a veto-proof majority in both Chambers. We’ve heard much puffery from Boehner and McConnell on their newfound ability to get things done with bipartisan consensus; they should use some of that consensus to rid Americans of this blight on their health care.
It is reported that moderate Democrats are also opposed to IPAB. But many withheld their support in the House vote because Republicans insisted on taking the $7 billion additional cost, from repealing IPAB, out of the financing for preventive care that Democrats wanted.
So, when it comes to deep-sixing this nightmare, Boehner couldn’t craft a compromise?
Republican congressional leaders better muster a little of the enthusiasm they showed passing Obama’s pet projects, and remove this affront to America and its Constitution. If they don’t, voters will surely remember, and at the very least they’ll lose the Senate next year.
Bob Bennett is a New York-based writer who has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post, and has appeared on Fox and Friends and America’s Newsroom. He has traveled widely and written travel pieces for the NY Post, a cover article for the Jewish Press, and an op-ed for the medical journal Cancer Biotherapy & Radioimmunotherapy. Bob was also award-winning producer of a travel radio show heard on New York stations: WMCA, WNWK and 50,000 watt WOR and the national Sky Angel Network. He now blogs on Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Community and Red State Diaries.