Current Events Medicare

“There isn’t a single honest health economist out there who agrees with…”

There has been much discussion over whether the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare), can ration care.  Mitt Romney claims “an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have,” whereas President Obama notes that no provision in the law that empowers the advisory board to make any decisions about what treatments doctors may provide for their patients.  Who is right?

Technically, both.  IPAB cannot prohibit certain types of care or drop coverage of certain types of care.  By cutting payment rates, however, IPAB will be de facto rationing care.

Michael Cannon from Cato@Liberty provides a more detailed response from Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine and economics at Stanford University and Research Associate at Acumen, responds:

The media “fact check” business is incredibly tiresome given how pedantic and downright inaccurate it is, but I wanted to weigh in on this one before it hardens.  The LA Times somehow thinks that the ACA (aka Obamacare) will have no effect on determining what care patients can get, and consequently dings Romney for saying it will.  There isn’t a single honest health economist out there who agrees with the LA Times on this one.

Bhattacharya explains that IPAB will be able to influence care by cutting payments to providers. But that’s not the half of it. IPAB has the power to do exactly what the fact-checkers think it can’t: deny specific treatments to Medicare enrollees. It can even raise taxes and do other things the fact-checkers think it cannot.

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