House votes to repeal the death panel

The House of Representatives voted 223-181 to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the ObamaCare “death panel” of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who would ration health care for seniors, and impose price controls on medicine. 

Sadly, an even grimmer death panel awaits the Protecting Access to Health Care (PATH) Act, which must now walk the green mile to doom in the Senate.  The Democrats still control the Senate, and they love the idea of bureaucratic panels imposing price controls.  They’re certainly not going to force President Obama to veto a bill that would repeal a key component of his bloated and dying health-care monstrosity. 

Instead, they’ll keep pushing one of the most persistent and dangerous delusions of the modern era, which is that price controls can be imposed without reducing quality and/or supply.  That’s never actually happened, but statist politicians will never stop insisting they can impose “affordable prices” with a swish and flick of their magic wands.

By now, most people know about the bureaucracy created by ObamaCare, but less widely known is the fate of anyone who dares to challenge its edicts.  As the National Right to Life Committee explains in a heavily documented fact sheet:

The Commission’s recommendations are to be ones “that the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] or other Federal agencies can implement administratively.”  In turn, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is empowered to impose “quality and efficiency” measures on hospitals, requiring them to report on their compliance with them.  Doctors will have to comply with such quality measures in order to be able to contract with any qualified insurance plan.

Basically, doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers will be told by Washington just what diagnostic tests and medical care are considered to meet “quality and efficiency” standards – not only for federally funded programs like Medicare, but also for health care paid for by private citizens and their nongovernmental health insurance.

(Emphasis mine.)  That’s what we’re talking about here: price controls and quality standards imposed through coercion, under the pain of being driven out of business, impervious to anything less than a congressional super-majority vote – a very rare event.  The objective of these limits is to keep health care costs below the rate of medical inflation.  Given the penalties they face, don’t expect a lot of doctors to fool around with administering care in excess of what the IPAB decrees.  Anything else you hear from Senate Democrats or the Obama Administration is pure spin.

Part of that spin has been a remarkable degree of sorcery surrounding the “cost” of repealing the IPAB.  Democrats simultaneously claim that the death panel would hardly have to do any rationing at all for the next ten years… and that repealing it will cost $3.1 billion.  These talking points are based on a range of Congressional Budget Office projections, evaluating possible scenarios through 2022.  If you tell a Democrat that the IPAB will impose brutal rationing on seniors, they’ll say no, it’s just going to sit there minding its own business for the next decade, because the growth of health care costs is projected to slow down.  If you then propose repealing the IPAB because it’s unnecessary, the very same Democrats will spin on a dime and shriek that repeal will slap another $3 billion on the deficit, which they otherwise could not care less about.

There’s more in the PATH Act than just repeal of the death panels, as House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) explained in a statement:

“In addition to repealing a key provision of the health care law, the PATH Act includes reforms that will actually lower the cost of health care, a glaring omission in the president’s law. The health care law failed to provide any meaningful reform to the broken and costly medical liability system, which is currently one of the largest cost drivers in our health care system. The current system is responsible for as much as $200 billion a year in unnecessary spending on defensive medicine; it fails to compensate injured patients in a fair and timely manner, and it threatens access to quality health care by driving good doctors out of high-risk specialties such as obstetrics and neurosurgery. The president promised to look at Republican ideas for medical liability reform. Passing this legislation is the first step toward allowing the president to make good on his promise.

“Health care decisions should be made between doctors and patients—that relationship does not work when bureaucrats and trial lawyers come between them.”

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, Americans overwhelmingly favor the complete repeal of ObamaCare, 56-39 percent.  It joins construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (57-29 percent according to a Gallup poll released Thursday) as something America desperately wants, but cannot have, as long as the Democrat Party controls the White House and Senate.