Imagine that your loved one required surgery, yet you were told by the government that the procedure was unnecessary and wouldn’t be covered by Medicare. A Medicare program with the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) crafted by President Obama ensures that this dilemma will become reality for countless seniors.
Since “ObamaCare” was passed into law, the American people have taken former House speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s advice and looked into the bill — and they don’t like what they see. Broken promises and an enormous price tag merely scratch the surface. Like an onion peeling back, ObamaCare continues revealing new and dangerous layers.
Besides costing our economy $1.8 trillion, raiding the Medicare program and violating our constitutional rights with the individual mandate, ObamaCare’s “cost-cutting” IPAB panel has the power to ration Medicare services for millions of seniors. Unless Congress can find equivalent savings, this 15-member board will mandate automatic Medicare cuts.
As a physician with more than 30 years of experience, I consider the doctor-patient relationship sacrosanct. IPAB is dangerous for many reasons, but above all, it drives a wedge between physicians and their patients. Health care decisions should be weighed carefully by patients, their family members and their doctor — not by Washington bureaucrats.
Without full repeal, this unelected, unaccountable and undemocratic denial-of-care board will shift decisions away from physicians and patients, bypass congressional oversight and focus on slashing Medicare costs instead of improving quality of care.
If that’s not worrisome enough, IPAB board members aren’t required to be doctors, or have any medical experience at all. In fact, the health care law even gives IPAB the authority to operate in secret and accept unlimited donations of services or even property from lobbyists. Cash, meals, cars, vacations and even homes will all be fair game under the current law. The potential for corruption is limitless.
With the Medicare trust fund set to go broke as early as 2016, improvements must be made to ensure the long-term solvency of Medicare — but IPAB is not the solution. Implementing meaningful medical liability reform, while preserving the current system for those 55 years of age and up, and allowing the private sector to compete for younger generations will be critical.
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., is a medical doctor and chairman of the House Republican Doctors Caucus. This post first appeared in USA Today.