Politics & Policy

The Corner

Media Matters Fails to Discredit Me

Media Matters must be running low on targets, since it chose to go after a piece I have in the Weekly Standard this week urging that Congress repeal Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

I argue that IPAB is both unconstitutional — a matter MM ignores — and a splendid vehicle for a future Bernie –Sanders type Congress to weaponize as a medical rationing board.

MM says I write with forked tongue, but then undermines its own critique by partially quoting what I wrote. From their sorry discrediting attempt:

The Standard column claims without proof that the IPAB “could, one day, be weaponized to implement invidious medical discrimination mandates — e.g., health-care rationing.”

The column also cites a 2012 New York Times op-ed from Steve Rattner, a former adviser to former President Barack Obama, as evidence that the IPAB could demand medical rationing. But in the actual op-ed, Rattner simply discussed forms of health care rationing he would prefer and laments that the ACA “regrettably includes severe restrictions” on rationing.

In other words, Rattner was arguing that rationing should be added to Obamacare’s powers — just as I wrote.

But MM didn’t discuss the complete context. Rattner’s New York Times piece specifically referenced how to cut Medicare expenses, which is the very purpose for which IPAB was created.

In this regard, Rattner laments that Medicare rationing is not allowed, writing, “We need death panels,” specifying:

Medicare needs to take a cue from Willie Sutton, who reportedly said he robbed banks because that’s where the money was. The big money in Medicare is in . . . reducing the cost of treating people in the last year of life, which consumes a quarter of the program’s budget.

And get this:

No one wants to lose an aging parent. And with the price out of the equation, it’s natural for patients and families to try for every treatment, regardless of expense or efficacy. But that imposes an enormous societal cost that few other nations have been willing to bear. Many countries whose health care systems are regularly extolled — including Canada, Australia and New Zealand — have systems for rationing care.

Then, there’s Rattner’s on-point kicker:

At the least, the Independent Payment Advisory Board should be allowed to offer changes in services and costs. We may shrink from such stomach-wrenching choices, but they are inescapable.

Oops. So, tell me Media Matters: How was I wrong?

My piece also quotes other Obama-connected rationing advocates such as Ezekiel Emanuel and Christina D. Romer, the latter of whom argued that IPAB should be allowed to recommend — which means impose, given its hyper-powers — “changes in benefits or in how Medicare services are provided.” That sure smells like health-care rationing to me.

But never mind. My piece warned that IPAB could one day become a rationing board and quoted notables hoping for that the board be one day allowed to impose healthcare rationing. I don’t see what MM is upset about, since its own analysis essentially confirms my thesis.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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