New Obama nominee for Social Security board a big fan of rationing
posted at 12:45 pm on November 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Barack Obama’s appointment of Donald Berwick as the head of Medicare and Medicaid became so unpopular — even among moderate Senate Democrats — that Obama ended up making Berwick a recess appointment even before Berwick had submitted a full questionnaire to the Senate. That might happen once again with Obama’s latest entitlement program appointment, Henry J. Aaron, picked to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board. The Brookings Institution economist shares a lot in common with Berwick, including a love of the British system of rationing health care, reports the Weekly Standard, which finds this from Aaron in the 1980s:
“If Americans are serious about curbing medical costs, they’ll have to face up to a much tougher issue than merely cutting waste, says Brookings Institution economist Henry J. Aaron.
“They’ll have to do what the British have done: ration some types of costly medical care — which means turning away patients from proven treatments.
“Cutting billions worth of ‘pure waste’ — in needless hospitalization, surplus beds, Cadillac-model machinery and superfluous tests — would only temporarily slow the growth in health spending, which now tops 10 percent a year, Aaron told a symposium sponsored by the American Academy of Physician Assistants last week in Reston.
Think that was long ago enough for Aaron to have changed his mind? Think again. Not only does Aaron like the idea of British care rationing, he’s also a big fan of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a topic we have covered many times at Hot Air. ObamaCare sets up the IPAB as a body unaccountable to Congress while making decisions on health care that patients cannot reverse within the ObamaCare system. In fact, once the IPAB has made a ruling on whether to support a treatment plan, the decision has to be reversed by statute under ObamaCare, meaning that it takes a majority in each chamber of Congress and the signature of the President.
That’s not good enough for Aaron, however. Calling the IPAB “Congress’ Good Deed,” Aaron wants it strengthened, not made more accountable:
Aaron praises the IPAB, although he does admit to having a few problems with it. He thinks that its largely unchecked power isn’t unchecked enough, as the board should be able to order payment reductions for other aspects of medical care that have so far escaped its statutory grant of power. He writes,
“I admit that the provisions governing the IPAB are less than optimal. For example, recommendations regarding payments to acute and long-term care hospitals, hospices and inpatient rehabilitation and psychiatric facilities are off-limits until 2020; and those to clinical laboratories are off-limits until 2016. These politically motivated restrictions should be repealed as early as possible so the IPAB’s recommendations can comprehend the delivery system as a whole.”
Aaron says that “the survival and strengthening of the IPAB is of critical importance.”
In other words, Aaron shares Obama’s view that government exists to make decisions for people and that the rule of technocrats should not be challenged. Aaron, like Berwick and Obama, want to make government even less accountable than Democrats proposed and passed in the ObamaCare bill, which put technocrat rule into orbit already.
Aaron would be one voice on the Social Security Advisory Board, and wouldn’t have direct impact on CMS or the IPAB. That makes his nomination somewhat less dangerous than that of Berwick. However, adding more elitists who push to demolish the pillars of self-government is exactly opposite of what this nation needs now. Republicans in the Senate should oppose Aaron’s confirmation.
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