Communications Department

Election to Decide Prospects for Rationing

Oct 15, 2012 | 04-Fall 2012 NRL News

NRL News
Page 13
Fall 2012
Volume 39
Issue 4

Election to Decide Prospects for Rationing

By Burke J. Balch, J.D.

With the two opposing presidential candidates taking diametrically opposite positions on the repeal of President Obama’s massive health care law—“ObamaCare”—November 6’s election will determine whether Americans will face the threat of rationing of lifesaving medical treatment by government bureaucrats as early as 2015.

The health care law is designed to empower the Obama Administration to limit what Americans are permitted to spend to save their lives and those of their families by regulating what lifesaving and other medical treatment health care providers may offer their patients. The law authorizes the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to impose so-called “quality” and “efficiency” standards on health care providers.

These standards are likely to be based on recommendations by a powerful new entity called the “Independent Payment Advisory Board” (IPAB). Its 18 members are directed to formulate proposals to limit what all Americans are legally allowed to spend for their health care so as to hold it below the rate of medical inflation. These proposals are to be ones that can be implemented “administratively”–such as through the “quality” standards HHS can use to handcuff doctors.

What happens to doctors who violate a “quality” standard by prescribing more lifesaving medical treatment than it permits? They will be disqualified from contracting with any of the health insurance plans that individual Americans, under the Obama Health Care Law, will be mandated to purchase. Few doctors would be able to remain in practice if subjected to that penalty.

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. (The documentation can be found at

It cannot be said often enough because it remains largely unknown: The IPAB would recommend drastic limits for the Department of Health and Human Services to impose on what Americans are allowed to spend out of their own funds to save their own lives and the lives of their families. Simply put, the IPAB is bad medicine.

Repeal of ObamaCare is critically important to prevent such rationing of lifesaving medical treatment. Repeal will be possible, however, only if the November elections result in a House and Senate willing to vote for it, and a president willing to sign–not veto–the repeal.