When Sarah Palin branded parts of Obamacare a “death panel,” she inflicted a deep political wound from which the program has never recovered.
In truth, there was no death panel in the existing law–but powerful voices wrote hopefully that the law could eventually include a specific mandate to impose healthcare rationing.
The most likely vehicle for rationing was the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a super-commission empowered to impose cuts in Medicare payments to doctors–even over a presidential veto–if projected cost increases passed a certain point.
That time was drawing nigh, and under different political leadership, IPAB’s commissioners would surely have been appointed and its unconstitutional (in my view) machinations commenced. Indeed, had Hillary Clinton become POTUS with Democrats in firm control of Congress, it is possible that the board would have been empowered to commence rationing as many in the technocratic class wanted.
Instead, the recent two-year budget bill killed it dead. That’s a welcome blow against the emerging technocracy–a bipartisan success for which all involved deserve applause.
Where does that leave Obamacare? The law is dying the death of a thousand cuts with the individual mandate repealed, the HHS moving to protect religious freedom in the healthcare context instead of attacking it, and now, a stake through IPAB’s cold heart.
Somewhere in Alaska, Sarah Palin is smiling.