Dirty Little Secret: Rationing is at Heart of ObamaCare

There is a dirty secret about health care that President Obama hopes will escape the headlines. In his newly released plan to “reform” Medicare as part of overall deficit reduction, Obama has punted actual cost-cutting and instead proposed a panel – the Independent Payment Advisory Board – to recommend savings for the financially doomed program. Translation: Welcome to the world of rationing.

The board, which was an original part of Obamacare (remember the death panel debate?), consists of 15 unelected bureaucrats who will have unchecked, binding power in the interest of supposedly greater efficiency and lower costs. That means that instead of you or your doctor making decisions about your care, a group of Washington micromanagers will do it for you.

Oh, and the rationing panel will be immune to lawsuits. According to The New York Times, “In general, federal courts could not review actions to carry out the board’s recommendations.”

The panel is one of the scariest policy moves made by this administration and is the epitome of government interference in our lives at the most personal of levels. If you’re not eligible for Medicare, you will be one day, which is why everyone should be very afraid of what’s to come when the panel starts its work in 2014 with a report to the President. Though defenders claim that Obamacare bars rationing, the panel will do just that.  (Full Story Below)

The fate of the elderly, the sick and the disabled depends on the findings of President Obama's proposed panel that will recommend savings for financially doomed Medicare.

There is a dirty secret about health care that President Obama hopes will escape the headlines. In his newly released plan to “reform” Medicare as part of overall deficit reduction, Obama has punted actual cost-cutting and instead proposed a panel – the Independent Payment Advisory Board  – to recommend savings for the financially doomed program. Translation: Welcome to the world of rationing.

The board, which was an original part of Obamacare (remember the death panel debate?), consists of 15 unelected bureaucrats who will have unchecked, binding power in the interest of supposedly greater efficiency and lower costs. That means that instead of you or your doctor making decisions about your care, a group of Washington micromanagers will do it for you.

They will do this by cutting reimbursements to doctors and hospitals and restricting patients from costly end-of-life care by enforcing caps on how much a patient can spend to stay alive. Most at risk will be the disabled, who require special and often expensive care. Cancer patients will be at risk, as well, since chemotherapy and other oncological treatments are some of the priciest.

In fact, there is very little Congress will be able to do to stop the panel. It will only be able to block its rulings with a two-thirds vote to override an expected presidential veto.

In the past, Obama has hinted that we’ll need a way to address these patients. “The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80% of the total health care bill out here,” he said shortly after taking office. “There is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.”

But there was no real conversation. Democrats inserted the rationing panel into the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare), and when the opposition tried to draw attention to the risks involved by invoking rationing, they were branded by the left and the mainstream media as crazies.

But this is far from fantasy. In fact, it’s already reality across the pond.

In many ways, Obama and congressional Democrats copied the British, who have a similar model called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. According to The Wall Street Journal, the acronym is quite the oxymoron when one looks at what passes for standard practice: “NICE has rejected a number of pricey drugs for cancer and other diseases in the past. . . .

Sometimes NICE rejects drugs for all patients with the disease, and sometimes just for patients with a specific form of the disease, where the efficacy doesn’t appear to justify the price. NICE’s decisions often anger patients, their families and drug companies.”

Most recently, NICE made the decision to deny the use of several new drugs to treat chronic leukemia patients. This showcases how deficit savings will be achieved under Obama’s plan.

First, it’s baffling to me that with countless government health officials on the federal payroll, nobody has been able to definitively figure out how to save Medicare from fiscal ruin. But somehow, these 15 Independent Payment Advisory Board pencil pushers will do the trick? Unless Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash are entering the world of public service, there is no reason to believe that the same bureaucrats who got us into this mess will be able to solve the problem simply because they’ve joined a newly created panel.

It does, however, give Washington air cover. Just like in England, when the panel makes a controversial decision, lawmakers will be cleared of any direct involvement, claiming they aren’t responsible for cutting your mother’s cancer treatments.

In fact, there is very little Congress will be able to do to stop the panel. It will only be able to block its rulings with a two-thirds vote to override an expected presidential veto.

Oh, and the rationing panel will be immune to lawsuits. According to The New York Times, “In general, federal courts could not review actions to carry out the board’s recommendations.”

So, to break it down: Democrats are against limits on private-sector lawsuits but are in favor of preventing patients from suing government bureaucrats. But if this rationing panel has been designed to be so efficient and good at its job, as the President and his administration claim, then why do Democrats fear litigation in the first place?

Even some on the left are unsettled about Obama’s solution to lowering the deficit through a medical panel with frighteningly unchecked powers. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), a notorious liberal, said this of Independent Payment Advisory Board-style rationing: “In its effort to limit the growth of Medicare spending, the board is likely to set inadequate payment rates for health care providers, which could endanger patient care.”

It could also lead to a doctor shortage. If the panel cuts reimbursements to physicians, they will simply stop treating Medicare patients, thus forcing patients to purchase their own health care. Already, “Obamacare’s passage has led as many as two-thirds of physicians to drop out of government-run health programs,” reports the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

The panel is one of the scariest policy moves made by this administration and is the epitome of government interference in our lives at the most personal of levels. If you’re not eligible for Medicare, you will be one day, which is why everyone should be very afraid of what’s to come when the panel starts its work in 2014 with a report to the President. Though defenders claim that Obamacare bars rationing, the panel will do just that.

Donald Berwick, the President’s controversial Medicare administrator, already stated that “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care – the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

Although Obama and many congressional Democrats are hoping the complexity of the Independent Payment Advisory Board will keep people from paying attention, our eyes must be open, too. The fate of the elderly, the sick and the disabled depends on it.
andrea@andreatantaros.com

Andrea Tantaros, whose column appears on Thursdays on NYDailyNews.com and often in the print edition of the newspaper, is a political commentator as well as a corporate communications executive. She previously served as a senior adviser on a number of political campaigns and as communications director for former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-N.Y.) and on Capitol Hill as press secretary for Republican leadership. Tantaros lives in New York City.

By ANDREA TANTAROS

The Dems, the White House and the media are trying to scare seniors about the Ryan Plan.  It is another diversion.  The real issue is the rationing or death panel headed by Donald Berwick that Sarah Palin and a few others warned us about and then were demonized by the same people who are hiding true facts of ObamaCare from you, until it is too late! Take it from someone who read as much of every version as possible during the ObamaCare battle… the panel and rationing are in there along with many other scary provisions.  And a vote to re-elect Obama is a final vote to destroy America’s healthcare as well as freedom!

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
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4 Responses to Dirty Little Secret: Rationing is at Heart of ObamaCare

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