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Rationing Returns

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It has been some months now since liberals had themselves an orgiastic field day over conservative fears that Obamacare included what were unfortunately nicknamed Death Panels. The discussion, and the issue, died when our oh-so-political president, ever with his finger diligently testing the political winds, decided to drop the controversial Advance Care Planning Consultation proviso of the original Obamacare proposed legislation.

But now, like the mythological Phoenix, the issue has shaken off its ashes and once more taken wing; this time as part of the administration’s plan to “reform” Medicare, which in turn is a part of their proposals aimed at achieving reductions in the federal deficit. Dubbed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), this time, according to an opinion piece written by Andrea Tantaros and published in The New York Daily News, the panel will consist of, “15 unelected bureaucrats who will have unchecked, binding power in the interest of supposedly greater efficiency and lower costs. That means that instead of you or your doctor making decisions about your care, a group of Washington micromanagers will do it for you.” According to the plan, savings will be achieved by slashing reimbursements to physicians and hospitals and by restricting end-of-life patients’ care by means of predetermined cost caps.

Opposition to the IPAB proposal is bipartisan; Rep. Peter Stark (D-CA) termed the Advisory Board a, “dangerous provision [that] sets [Medicare] up for unsustainable cuts.” Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), vice-chair of the New Democrat Coalition, wrote to her colleagues calling on them to support repealing IPAB altogether.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • handyguy

    It seems inevitable that Medicare and Social Security will be means-tested and become another form of welfare. This may be the only practical route in a future dominated by aging boomers. But it does fundamentally change the original intent of both Social Security and Medicare — they were supposed to be for everybody, removed from the societal stigma of “relief.”

    Already many if not most Americans couldn’t tolerate living on Social Security checks alone — it’s seen as a small supplemental pension.

  • Leroy

    Means testing SS is a bad idea because everyone should be in the same pool and get the same benefit. It’s the essence of democracy. But the regressive SS witholding tax cap can be eliminated.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    …you are blind to the point that whhat is good for the individual is, logically enough, good for the “population” as well….

    Actually, Clavos, that is certainly not true. When what one person decides to do something “because it’s good for him”, that does NOT mean that it’s good for everyone.

    And I’ll give you the same example that I always do…that every single one of the world’s first-world democracies have comprehensive social safety nets (of which America’s is now the least comprehensive). Why is it that NO first-world country operates without a social safety net? If “operating without a social safety net” in the modern world were a better path to prosperity, then why is it that NO nation that doesn’t have such a safety net has become a first-world nation?

    That’s the big disconnect that conservatives have – that doing what is good for everyone is beneficial to everyone…including you. If the people as a whole are better off, then they achieve more than they would otherwise.

    Clavos, do you realize that America is now next to last on the list of the nations of the West as ordered by social mobility? Who’s last? Britain…which, like America under Reaganomics, is still in the thrall of Thatcherism! Before Reaganomics, we were in the top five. Before Reaganomics, our deficit was a mere fraction of what it is now. Before Reaganomics, we didn’t have an average of nearly two recessions per decade!

    In other words, Clavos, thanks to Reaganomics, we are no longer the Land of Opportunity – oh-so-socialist Western Europe now has more of a claim to that title!

    What is good for the individual is NOT necessarily good for the population – and the numbers show it!

    Many hands make light work, Clavos – and that includes paying the taxes which improve the overall well-being of the population. If that were not true, then the oh-so-socialist nations (also known as every other first-world democracy on the planet) would be poverty-ridden.

    But they’re not, are they? No, they’re improving the lives of their populations as a whole, while ours is going downhill fast, thanks to Reaganomics. What you personally may like or don’t like does NOT matter. What DOES matter is most beneficial to the nation as a whole…for if it’s beneficial to the nation as a whole, chances are real good that it’s beneficial to you, too.

  • Leroy

    USA business is dead in the water and ripe for picking by more flexible economies. With $2trillion in business savings and $2trillion in finance industry set asides we have too much frozen assets which our ossified business community seems unable to deploy usefully.

    It would help to rescind the $270billion/year business subsidies we provide, since it’s apparent that US business can’t even usefully employ their own retained earnings (so we’re just throwing good money after bad), and flow that money into the lower end of the economy where we have the best chance of curing our Demand Drought.