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April 14, 2011

More Obama Punting To A Commission: Medicare Board Is Supposed To Do All The Rationing and Death Paneling He Won't Propose As Law

One of Obama's few specific plans -- I should say "goals" -- is to simply mandate that the board overseeing Medicare payments hold costs to rate of inflation +0.5%, and not inflation + 1.0% as he previously insisted.

You know how this works? It's supposed to make recommendations for changes -- what won't be covered; rationing, in other words -- which Congress then needs to pass into law.

First of all, that's Obama punting, once again, to a commission with no actual power, which can only make recommendations to professional politicians.

And, as Mickey Kaus notes:

The all powerful Independent Payment Advisory Board will save us! This is always Obama’s deficit solution. Democracy can’t handle the truth!(“It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels.”) But will Congress freely cede power over who gets what treatment to an unelected “advisory” board of experts? It happens with the Fed. But health care involves actual constituents living and dying[.]

So his plan is to have a commission recommend changes to Congress. He's punting to two different groups which conveniently do not include Barack Hussein Obama in their membership.

But why would Congress suddenly get tough on Old People when Obama can't even bring himself to utter the words "grandma gets rationed"? Obama's up for reelection in 2012; so is Congress. If Obama can't even say the words "ration" how can he expect other politicians to act first and pass rationing measures into positive law?

And this is his "plan." Another commission, another directive to Congress to do what he doesn't have the guts to do, another punt, another "present."

This is not a plan. The Doc Fix -- a cut in medicare reimbursements for doctors -- was passed in 1995 and has been rescinded every year since then (hence, doctors keep getting paid more, not less).

If Congress doesn't have the guts to cut doctors' pay (as they say they won't take Medicare enrollees anymore if they do that), how is Congress going to vote affirmatively to let old people die?

I ask once again: What is worse? Telling someone honestly, upfront, that they'll be expected to pay the first $5000 of their health care costs, but beyond that, we'll pick up every dime, or lying to someone, telling them Daddy Government Got Dey Healthcare squared away, paying for minor shit that people really should be paying for themselves, but then, when they're old and desperately sick, having death panelists step in and say "Too expensive; you've lived long enough. We're pulling the plug. Here, here's some advil and codeine. God Speed you on your way."

That last part is a nasty surprise. But Obama prefers that scheme, because the people alive and voting are getting paid by the government and hence will vote for him, whereas the people death-paneled out of existence aren't going to be voting.

Well, some of them will keep voting Democrat, of course. But they'll be the minority.

So those are the two plans: We ration some up front when you're healthy and you know, in advance, what your maximum health care expenses will be year to year, or we'll pretend we've got everything covered, and then, if you're old and sick, surprise, it's too expensive to treat you so Gram-Gram go bye-bye now.

One is "cruelty," according to Krugman. I agree. But we disagree on which.

Kaus also points out that Krugman rants about the cruelty of the Ryan plan but then endorses rationing by Obama's death panels, which he euphemizes as "health care professionals:"

So the difference between Obama’s Medicare and the Ryan Plan, according to Paul Krugman is whether you get your coverage denied by “insurance company executives” or by ”health care professionals.” To the barricades!

Kaus is snarking; he doesn't see that as much of a difference worth fighting for.

But Krugman and Obama are fighting very hard for just that distinction -- Kaus should ask why.


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posted by Ace at 06:17 PM

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