Friday, April 22, 2011

Hsieh PJM OpEd on Rationing and IPAB

Today's PajamasMedia just published my latest health care OpEd, "We Call It 'Rationing,' Obama Calls It 'Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board'".

The basic theme is that we shouldn't let either Obama's IPAB or Congress control our health care.

Here is an excerpt:
Suppose Congress asked Americans: which government officials should decide what foods you would be allowed to eat and what prices you had to pay at the grocery store -- Congress, or an unelected board of nutritional experts appointed by the president?

Most Americans would immediately reply, "Neither!" But that's precisely the debate between Congress and the White House regarding President Obama’s proposed Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board...

Although the Obama administration stated that the IPAB would not ration medical care, its power to set payments to doctors and hospitals would give it de facto rationing power.

If the IPAB sets the reimbursement rate for services below the cost of providing it, then hospitals and doctors could no longer afford to offer such services -- even if the services are medically best for their patients. Life-saving medical procedures we currently take for granted, such as PET scans to detect early cancers or minimally invasive methods to safely open up blocked vital blood vessels without risky surgery, might no longer be available. Although those services might still theoretically be "covered" by Medicare, in practice doctors would no longer offer them, and their patients would no longer be able to receive them...
(Read the full text of "We Call It 'Rationing,' Obama Calls It 'Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board'".)

Americans would never stand for the following false alternative: "Who should decide what foods you are allowed to eat—a panel of unelected bureaucrats or your elected Congressmen?"

We should similarly reject the same false alternative for our health care.

(PJM lightly edited my piece and changed the title, but left the basic meaning intact.)