A certain former half-term governor of Alaska this week apparently renewed bogus allegations that the Affordable Care Act includes "death panels." Earlier today, Sen. John Barasso (R-Wy.) appeared on MSNBC and was asked if accepts this kind of talk. He wouldn't answer.
This isn't complicated. Barasso could have knocked down this nonsense in five words: "There are no death panels." But he couldn't bring himself to do the right thing.
Instead, he said, "There is a portion of the law, the Independent Payments Advisory Board, [where] unelected bureaucrats are going to determine how much, if anything, is paid for different kinds of care in this country — very little way for Congress to overrule that."
For anyone confused -- and apparently, that includes members of the Senate -- let's set the record straight (again).
As Paul Krugman explained a while back, "Arguably the most important thing we can do to limit the growth in health care costs is learning to say no; we cannot afford a system in which Medicare in particular will pay for anything, especially when that's combined with an industry structure that gives providers a strong financial incentive to engage in excessive care."
To address this, the Obama administration wants IPAB, as part of the Affordable Care Act, to make the difficult decisions, free of the political process on Capitol Hill, precisely because Congress has failed so spectacularly in its ability to make these choices on its own. The board, made up of experts who would require Senate confirmation, would get to work in 2014.
Why would Republicans say they want to lower costs and cut spending, then oppose a panel that would lower costs and cut spending? It has to do the GOP's larger goal: scrapping Medicare altogether.
Both parties agree that Medicare faces long-term financial difficulties, and that addressing the problem is no easy task. Democrats have proposed measures like IPAB, which will limit unnecessary spending and lower overall Medicare costs, thus shoring up the program's finances.
Republicans have an alternative proposal: scrap Medicare, starting handing out vouchers that won't keep up with rising costs, and tell seniors to get sick less often.
The GOP opposes IPAB in large part, because they're afraid the Democratic idea might work, and make the Republican goal of Medicare privatization that much less likely to happen. Since scrapping Medicare is the ultimate GOP goal anyway, IPAB's efficacy would be a hindrance, not a benefit.
For whatever reason, Barasso neglected to mention these relevant details on the air this morning.