Jumping the Gun on the IPAB

The tactic of going after the Independent Payment Advisory Board, dubbed the ‘Death Panel’, was not the best way of going after Obamacare. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, filed by the Goldwater Institute in Arizona, who characterized the bureaucratic DC committee as leading to seniors’ deaths. It was an unnecessary bit of theatre. While the Independent Panel Advisory Board, or IPAB, requires a supermajority vote in Congress to override it’s decisions and that means less checks and balances, its decisions are really about fine-tuning a government program - Medicare - with all it’s rules and regulations, and the death panel moniker seemed an unnecessary bit of drama. Medicare is indeed a huge part of healthcare spending; in 2011 it accounted for around 47% of inpatient hospital costs while representing around 15% of the population. And that’s the way it was designed to be; providing state support of the aged. Who receives it, how they receive it and how they pay for it has been a long-standing debate. Should Medicare be reformed? The answer is obvious but finding a balance between providing healthcare for seniors, and allowing choice and competition to ration healthcare spending is proving almost impossible.

The lawsuit will be refiled of course. The lower courts ruled that until the IPAB starts making decisions any suit is premature. One hopes that the Goldwater Institute, by jumping the gun, has not hurt their basic case (the suit was split into two parts: one over the IPAB and the other over a patients right to 'medical autonomy' or the right to choose not to have Medicare and to not be fined for taking that decision). If the intent was to draw attention to the IPAB, the case has succeeded. If the intent was to curtail the power of a board that is not sufficiently accountable to Congress, the jury, quite literally, is out until the IPAB starts making some decisions. Then we can wait until SCOTUS rules on the new lawsuit which will be filed at some point in the future, and we can add another layer of rules and regulations to the thicket of those already in existence.

Posted by Keeley at March 31, 2015 6:57 PM
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