A media outlet that traditionally generates left leaning commentary instead of unbiased news content, NPR’s report supporting the newly created Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is not surprising.
IPAB, established under the new health care overhaul, is a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats that will be appointed by the President to lower Medicare costs. The board will wield an enormous amount of power over health care, as it will be able to make decisions unchecked by Congress.
What is unique about this topic, and NPR admits this point in the article, is that even many Democrats are opposing IPAB. So, apparently NPR is confident it knows better than health policy experts from groups like the Pacific Research Institute, Cato Institute, and here at The Heartland Institute as well as medical groups such as the American Hospital Association and the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, who have voiced their concern over IPAB.
Let’s break down NPR’s argument…
First, it claims that, despite bi-partisan criticism, IPAB “would effectively reduce Medicare spending.”
Well, extensive research has proven that IPAB will actually produce minimal savings. For example, a study of Obamacare spending from 2010 to 2019 from the Pacific Research Institute shows that IPAB wouldn’t even begin to generate savings until 2015 and even then it would be minuscule. Medicare spending is projected to be $678 billion in 2015 and IPAB is expected to have saved $1 billion.
Next, NPR claims that IPAB is similar to MedPAC, the current Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, but will be more effective because Congress will not be able to ignore IPAB’s recommendations.
That overreaching amount of power that would be granted to this unelected bureaucracy is precisely the problem.
Both Democrats and Republicans argue that IPAB will have far too much influence over health care decisions. At least with agencies like MedPac and the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ), Congress, the body appointed by the people, has the power to “ignore” recommendations.
For example, according to Benjamin Domenech, managing editor of Health Care News at the Heartland Institute, “when the AHRQ decided that surgery to relieve back pain was “unnecessary”, Congress promptly stripped its guidelines of any enforcement powers.”
This won’t be the case with IPAB. Rather, if they made a similar decision, it would immediately go into effect. Only a two-thirds vote from both Houses of Congress could override IPAB’s decisions. What other medical procedures will they deem “unnecessary”?
So, to wrap up those two points, IPAB won’t save a great deal of money, and it will limit Medicare beneficiaries’ access to medical services. Still sound like a good idea, NPR?
NPR also quotes a Princeton health economist who says a similar board is present in Germany and it “really works” and is “civilized.” Well, according to Domenech, “past experiences with prior boards, even those with limited purview, show that care-restricting recommendation power lasts only until people find out about its effects” – exactly why even the U.K. is abandoning the model.
Additionally, NPR failed to note that IPAB will limit access to medical goods, especially prescriptions drugs, which will also, as stated by Graham, “have a chilling effect on investors’ willingness to invest their capital in pharmaceutical enterprise.”
The only accurate argument in NPR’s article is that “both parties doubt such a board will work here in the U.S.”
Everything considered, I’d say that’s sounds about right.