SCHERZ: A Trojan horse named IPAB

Unelected board would usher in socialized medicine

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

Perhaps the most underreported and, until recently, least discussed aspect of the Affordable Care Act is IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This 15-person unelected panel has yet to be selected; however, it will be a key to the success of Obamacare.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been quoted as saying that the majority of IPAB members must not be medical practitioners. Though some doctors may be represented, it is unlikely that they will be actively practicing clinicians who care for patients directly. Instead, the board will be populated by economists and other bureaucrats - “bean counters” - who will be given the responsibility of deciding how doctors caring for Medicare patients will get paid. It is anticipated that IPAB will drive payments so low that many doctors will be unable to offer certain services to patients, resulting in rationing of health care, which the administration fervently denies. Equally disturbing is IPAB’s unaccountability to Congress, but President Obama is unfazed and actually thinks its oversight regarding health care does not go far enough.

IPAB is the Trojan horse of Obamacare. Like a Trojan horse or a worm invading your computer, IPAB will infect and corrupt the entire system once it has been embedded as part of the health care bureaucracy. IPAB has almost limitless power over Medicare spending. Written into the Affordable Care Act are provisions that essentially make its decisions exempt from congressional oversight and impervious to administrative or judicial review. It is a nearly autonomous agency operating as an arm of the executive branch. Conveniently, this does not occur until after the 2012 elections.

As if this weren’t pernicious enough, President Obama thinks IPAB should have even more power - that of “automatic sequester,” which means it would be able to prevent Congress from appropriating any additional money for Medicare outside of its purview. The president’s handpicked deficit commission recommended that IPAB have a much wider range of power, including extending its authority to all of health care. This eventually would result in a single-payer, federally controlled health care system - a goal Mr. Obama has been working toward since at least 2007.

The bureaucratic framework is being constructed rapidly by the Department of Health and Human Services and will be reality unless the electorate wakes up and understands what is at stake in 2012. On our current trajectory, a European-style, socialized health care system is all but guaranteed. The GOP must do a better job of articulating this message effectively. Even Democrats in Congress recognize the danger that IPAB and Obamacare have created and are trying to distance themselves from it. It is a blatant, unconstitutional power grab that restricts the power of future Congresses. Rep. David P. Roe, Tennessee Republican, has introduced a bipartisan bill with more than 120 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, calling for the abolition of IPAB. A group of 272 medical organizations jointly signed a letter addressed to Congress urging IPAB repeal. Even the American Medical Association - one of the biggest supporters of Obamacare - says IPAB is an overreach and has called for its repeal.

It is time for doctors to wake up to the gravity of this threat and to understand that they have considerable influence and can reach millions of patients (voters) daily. They may be the last line of defense against what may prove to be the undoing of not just American health care, but our Constitution.

Dr. Hal Scherz is founder and president of Docs4PatientCare.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts