The Obamacare individual mandate was dropped precipitously when the tax-reform package was signed into law just before Christmas.
Now a second much-reviled Obamacare provision, its “death panel,” has been repealed in this week’s two-year spending plan adopted by Congress in the wee hours of Friday morning and signed by President Trump.
Democrats mocked the “death panel” moniker, but the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was never made functional, comissioned 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to “limit private, nongovernmental spending on health care.”
Critics, such as Sarah Palin, who popularized the “death panel” label, argued that by limiting spending, the panel effectively could determine who would live and who would die.
The National Right to Life Committee, a coalition of 50 state affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, praised the elimination of the board.
“Little attention was given to the IPAB’s sweeping powers to limit not just Medicare spending, but also healthcare paid for with nongovernmental dollars,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “National Right to Life long opposed the IPAB because of the drastic limits it could impose on Medicare and the money Americans could spend out of their own funds to save their own lives and the lives of their families.”
Darla St. Martin, National Right to Life co-executive director, thanked “the large, bipartisan majority of Congress, led by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and others, for making repeal of the IPAB a priority.”
BizPacReview said Democrats “and Obamacare fans denied its existence while conservatives slammed what former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin called a ‘death panel’ as it was devised to control care to recipients.”
“The advisory board would have the power to determine – or ration – care by deciding how health dollars would be spent, making decisions based on their view of the cost, need, and patient diagnosis.”
The Wall Street Journal explained the panel “represents everything Americans hate about the Affordable Care Act: political rationing over individual choice.”
LifeNews reported Jennifer Popik, the director of federal legislation for National Right to Life, explained the IPAB was intended to limit the treatment doctors could offer patients.
The plan also threatened doctors if they recommended to patients more than what the board allowed.
“This means that treatment a doctor and patient deem advisable to save that patient’s life or preserve or improve the patient’s health – but which exceeds the standard imposed by the government – will be denied even if the patient is willing and able to pay for it. Repeal of IPAB is critically important to prevent this rationing of life-saving medical treatment,” she said.
The Washington Post said the board “never even got to live except in the realm of political theater.”
“Nobody’s exactly crying as IPAB takes a bow,” the report said. “Even the most earnest ACA defenders have admitted it was mostly a gimmick to help pay for the health-care law and never held any real promise for reining in Medicare spending. It would have been the job of the panel, made up of outside experts, to recommend Medicare savings to Congress (almost certainly through payment cuts to doctors). But the program’s spending growth never hit a designated threshold so the panel was never even formed.”
WND reported only two years ago when lawmakers during the Obama administration also proposed “coverage for end-of-life counseling” for Medicare patients.
The AP said the voluntary counseling would have been authorized earlier by Obamacare if not for the outcry prompted by Palin’s “death panel” charge.
In 2014, WND reported Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who helped craft Obamacare as health-policy adviser at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said he thought it would be best if people volunteered to die at age 75.
In a column for Atlantic magazine, Emanuel, the brother of then-Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel, who now is Chicago’s mayor, argued improvements in health care that extend life expectancies through vaccines, antibiotics and technological innovations end up “stretching out old age,” resulting in “a progressive erosion of physical functioning.”