Palin was right. ObamaCare’s “Death Panels” Begin.

During the 2009-2010 congressional health care reform debate about the president’s signature law, ObamaCare  --  passed without a single Republican Senator or a single Republican Representative voting for it  --  Sarah Palin issued a “statement on the current health care debate” which warned about ObamaCare’s “death panels.”

Palin wrote, on August 7, 2009, seven months before Obama’s socialized medicine scheme was signed into law:  “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel”’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “’level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

According to “The Washington Post,” April 3, 2013, oncologists are saying that thousands of patients undergoing expensive chemotherapy drug treatments will no longer be treated because of across-the-board federal budget cuts, which went into effect on April 1st.    Since then, the Obama administration has been blaming the Republicans for the measly cuts  --  a total of only $85 billion spread across the entire federal government this year  --  provided in the sequester law which included cuts to Medicare.  However, ObamaCare itself contained about $600 billion in cuts to Medicare.  The president seems to have forgotten that. 

It was just a matter of time before the administration sunk to a new low in political posturing and gamesmanship.  After countless warnings about what would happen to the economy and specific spending programs from Obama cabinet officers and most especially from the president himself and about the dire consequences which would result if the Republicans allowed the $1.2 trillion sequester law to remain unchanged, the Republicans refused to cave and the sequester law went into effect.  Except for Obama’s closing the White House for tours by schoolchildren  --  and his administration’s unsuccessful attempt to slow down air traffic  --   the American people noticed that nothing happened because of the new sequestration law. 

Unfortunately, the warning by oncologists about scaled-back chemotherapy drug treatments is a harbinger of things to come when ObamaCare begins to kick in next year because of ObamaCare’s massive cuts to Medicare. Even the author of the Senate’s version of ObamaCare, Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, who just announced he would not seek another term called ObamaCare “a train wreck.”  New polls this week show the greatest disapproval rate for ObamaCare since it became law. 

There are some in Congress who are trying to ameliorate the damage of ObamaCare, at least until it can be repealed by a future Congress and a new president.  In his column today in “The Washington Times” entitled “Pound the Medicare board before it hammers the elderly; Unaccountable cuts would damage health of seniors,” Congressman Phil Roe, Chairman of the Republican Doctors’ Caucus, writes about the bipartisan bill he has introduced with 160 co-sponsors.

He writes:  “There are several unattractive parts of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), but perhaps the most unattractive is a little-discussed board that has the power to dramatically alter Medicare.  The Independent Payment Advisory Board has the power to reshape Medicare to meet a budget, and Congress has only limited ability to stop it.  It is imperative we move to repeal the board.” 

This board is exactly what Governor Palin described as ObamaCare’s infamous “death panels.”  Dr. Roe continues:  “The Independent Payment Advisory Board is an unelected, unaccountable body of 15 members.  The law does not require the board to be bipartisan, despite its sweeping power to essentially regulate the entire Medicare system.  While the law does explicitly state the board cannot ration care, it does not define what rationing is, and I have serious concerns the board’s decisions will lead to reduced access to health care.  The board has one mission:  to cut Medicare spending to meet a budget. At a time when Medicare currently pays around 80 percent of what private insurers do, any additional cuts could absolutely limit patients’ access to care.  Already, 1 in 10 physicians is not accepting new Medicare patients.”

The subject of ObamaCare’s “death panels” came up during last year’s presidential campaign. During a town hall meeting in Orlando, Florida on September 22nd the Republican vice presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, R-WI, was asked by an elderly gentleman about ObamaCare’s “death squads,” and Congressman Ryan laughed and said:  “that’s not the word I’d choose to use to describe it. It’s actually called … the Independent Payment Advisory Board.”  Unfortunately, as senior citizens  --  and indeed cancer victims needing chemotherapy treatments  --  have discovered the deleterious effects of ObamaCare, that phrase is being used more and more.

In his “Times” column today, Congressman Roe explains his legislation:  “I spent more than 30 years caring for patients, and I know firsthand that few decisions in life are as personal or important as the ones you make with your family about your health care. The Affordable Care Act will forever change the way we deliver health care in this country. I remain convinced that repealing this law and starting over to replace it would be best, but in the meantime, we must address the law’s most damaging aspects. That is why I introduced legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, H.R.351, has 160 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee … My legislation has something that is all too rare in Washington: bipartisan support. While Republicans and Democrats might not be able to agree on how we should save Medicare for future generations, we do agree that Congress  --  not government bureaucrats  -- should make those decisions.” 

Americans  --  who increasingly are disapproving of ObamaCare --  undoubtedly will be very supportive of the bipartisan “The Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act.”  It needs to be passed now.