Amid all the partisan hand-wringing and fear-mongering in the debate over the future of Medicare, both sides should be able to agree on one fact: Medicare as we know it is unsustainable if health care costs continue to skyrocket.
Congressman Frank Guinta acknowledges this and responds saying, “The failure is to not act.” So what action do he and fellow Congressman Charlie Bass take? They vote to do away with a key program specifically designed to keep Medicare costs from zooming out of control!
The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) would make recommendations to Congress to help reduce Medicare costs. The board only acts if the projected growth rate of Medicare exceeds targets; it is prohibited from recommending policies that ration care, raise taxes, increase premiums, restrict benefits or change eligibility requirements; and its recommendations are subject to Congressional approval.
Bass and Guinta both proudly voted to eliminate the IPAB. How did they justify their votes? Demagoguery. "IPAB wedges a bureaucrat between the doctor and patient," declared Bass:
What is most alarming, however, is the complete lack of accountability that this board would have to Congress or the general public. … Simply put, the IPAB wedges a bureaucrat between the doctor and patient in the health care decision-making process, limiting patient options and the doctor's freedom to effectively care for his or her patients.
The board would “greatly restrict” access to health care, echoed Guinta:
IPAB is tasked with reducing medical costs, and it would do that by restricting healthcare access for seniors. Granite State seniors deserve better than a 15 member panel of unelected bureaucrats intruding into their relationship with their doctor. They shouldn’t have to cut through red tape just to get the medical care they need….
Writing in Forbes, Rick Ungar calls repeal of the IPAB a “giant Medicare fraud.”
Sometimes, the willingness of Congress to so blatantly act on behalf of special interests to the out-and-out detriment of the average American — or to waste time and frighten the taxpayer all for the benefit of a good political narrative — astounds even me.
According to the House GOP, other political players and the storied think tanks whose pockets are lined by special interests such as the pharmaceutical companies, hospital associations, or just about anyone who might lose a few bucks if someone has to actually do something to get medical costs under control, this IPAB is the mechanism that the socialists (and you know who you are) will use to ration our healthcare.
Except, as the facts would have it, it turns out that this small board of medical experts can’t ration a thing — whether they want to or not.
For the record, the Center for Responsive Politics reports Guinta has raised over $97,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry, $56,000 from health professionals and $30,000 from hospitals and nursing homes. In the last two campaign cycles, Bass has pulled in almost $64,000 from health professionals, $64,000 from the insurance industry and $47,000 from the pharmaceutical industry.
Adapted from a post that first appeared in Miscellany Blue.