Can patients' best interests be served by allowing unelected bureaucrats to make critical medical decisions? The US faces a grim scenario of more life-threatening delays for seniors under health care plans from President Obama's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) .
The 15-member group of presidential appointees is expected to make new cuts to meet annual spending targets, and will have unprecedented control over patients' personal medical decisions, but limited medical expertise. Even Democrats who voted for ObamaCare support are calling for a repeal of the IPAB, even before it begins.
Medicare doctors in the US are set to lose almost $300 billion in automatic cuts during the next decade. Under the current law, physician payments will "fall to 27 per cent of private health insurance levels" and "less than half of the projected Medicaid rates."
Experts in "technology assessment" will help devise payment formulas that prevent new lifesaving medical breakthroughs. The new law limits membership of doctors with real experience caring for patients, instead selecting numbers-crunchers focused only on costs. Experts in "technology assessment" will help devise payment formulas that prevent new lifesaving medical breakthroughs.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended this new rationing board and said that IPAB's new automatic cuts were "recommendations." She did not explain why the IPAB's decisions carry the force of law unless two-thirds of the House and Senate vote to stop them. In an unprecedented move, ObamaCare also prohibits judicial review of cuts harmful to seniors.
Sebelius maintains that IPAB may not "ration" care. However, by slashing payments below costs, IPAB will deprive aged patients of much-needed care. While IPAB can't outlaw needed treatments, it can force frail patients to wait longer or travel farther. It can also penalize doctors who offer a new and more effective treatment.