NRL News

A day after announcing his retirement, pro-abortion Rep. Barney Frank announces support to repeal IPAB

by | Dec 1, 2011

By Dave Andrusko
National Right to Life News Today

Pro-abortion Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)

There isn’t a lot of mileage to be gained by rehashing a pro-abortion politician’s record when he calls it a day. But on Tuesday, the day after pro-abortion Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced he would not be running in 2012, he did something useful: he added his name to the list of Democrats supporting repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the Daily Caller reported. All told there are now 12 Democrats among the 212 members of the House who are co-sponsoring Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe’s bill aimed at repealing the IPAB.

National Right to Life’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics has written some of the very best critiques of the IPAB, a 15-member presidentially appointed board consisting of “experts” who will possess extraordinary powers.

Rather than try to summarize the Center’s major arguments, I’m publishing below a critique written in October by Burke Balch, JD, and Jennifer Popik of  Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics.


Despite constant and increasing pushback, President Obama is clinging hard to one of the most controversial elements of his health law – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  Indeed, to help pay for his jobs bill, he recently called for the Board to limit Americans’ ability to get health care, even with their own money,  more severely than under the 2010 Obama Healthcare Law.

The Obama Healthcare Law directs the IPAB to issue recommendations to limit what ordinary citizens and their health insurance coverage can pay for medical treatment so as to prevent it from keeping up with the rate of medical inflation.  With regard to senior citizens, the limits will automatically reduce Medicare payments, and the law drastically limits Congressional ability to alter or overturn the reductions.

With regard to Americans of every age, the limits are to be implemented by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is empowered to impose “quality” and “efficiency” measures on health care providers (including hospices, ambulatory surgical centers, rehabilitation facilities, home health agencies, physicians and hospitals) which must report on their compliance.  Doctors who dare to give their patients treatment beyond what these measures permit will be excluded from contracting with any qualified health insurance plans. 

Last month, President Obama addressed the nation on the topic of jobs creation, proposing a bill that he is currently promoting across the nation.  While the Obama Administration had begun circulating the proposal, it did not immediately address how it would be paid for.

The recently released “Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction,” while relying on many expected tax increases to fund the jobs plan, also reveals a telling agenda with respect to the IPAB. The President would have IPAB significantly reduce the resources that can be used for life- and health- saving medical care even below the limit that was set in the Obama health care law.  This would reduce even more greatly Medicare payments for senior citizens, money Obama would divert from older Americans’ health care in order to help pay for his jobs bill.  But it would equally reduce what private, nongovernmental funds Americans of every age would be permitted to devote to medical treatment for their family members.

A bill before Congress  for IPAB’s repeal (H.R. 452) currently has 206 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. [Editor’s note: 212 as of 11/30/2011.] This week, twenty medical specialty groups, in a letter, urged the congressional debt “supercommittee” to eliminate the hotly contested IPAB.   They join over 270 other medical organizations that have already sent a letter to Congress urging repeal.   National Right to Life submitted written testimony highlighting IPAB’s dangers for a July Energy and Commerce House hearing on the matter.

However, even if passed by the House, it is nearly certain that repeal this year or next would stall in the Senate, or face an Obama veto.  The many complaints levied against the IPAB have only seemed to entrench President Obama in his position to have the IPAB limit still further which of their resources private citizens and those in Medicare will be permitted to devote to saving their lives and those of their family members.

Unless in 2013 there is a Congress willing to vote for repeal, and a President willing to sign it, then after 2015 there will be one uniform national standard of medical care, established by Washington bureaucrats and set with a view to limiting what private citizens are allowed to spend on saving their own lives.

What this amounts to is that doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers will be told by Washington bureaucrats  just what diagnostic tests and medical care is considered to meet “quality” and “efficiency” standards – not only for federally funded health care programs like Medicare, but also for health care paid for by private citizens and their nongovernmental health insurance.  Treatment that a doctor and patient in consultation deem needed or advisable to save that patient’s life or preserve or improve the patient’s health but which the government decides is too costly – even if the patient is willing and able to pay for it – will run afoul of the imposed standards.

And if President Obama has his way, those standards will go down even further than under the 2010 law.

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Categories: Health Care