Youth have the greatest stake in the current Medicare reform debate; for we will have to live with whatever results from it for the longest period of time. Tragically, Medicare is set to be bankrupt in 2024 and only the House Republicans have presented a plan that restore’ the program’s solvency, leaving youth asking: President Obama, Where’s YOUR Plan?
While we await the President’s plan, that is, if he ever decides reforming Medicare is more important than his golf game, we can almost with certitude conjecture what it would be: a strengthening of ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
In short, IPAB is a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats who are paid $160,000 a year to ration the care of seniors. Specifically, the board is empowered with the responsibility of singlehandedly lowering Medicare provider rates to keep the program’s spending below a hard spending cap, jeopardizing seniors’ access to care in the process.
Despite the Medicare cuts IPAB is already set to make, the program’s trustees recently reported that the program will still be bankrupt in 2024, and thus further reforms to the program are necessary to restore its solvency. But why is Obama likely to choose a strengthening of IPAB’s power to cut provider rates as his reform of choice?
First because he’s outright rejected the alternative route of patient-centered care reform, such as the one Congressman Paul Ryan has proposed where future seniors are empowered to freely choose a plan that fits their needs and desires, and where competition between insurers for these consumers will drive down costs. That leaves the President down the path of government-centered reform, where a few individuals in Washington, DC arbitrarily and drastically slash provider rates without any regard to how it will jeopardize specific individuals’ access to care. The only outlying question is who will take this action, an elected Congress or unelected bureaucrats like members of IPAB?
Congress has historically held this role, but the President’s creation of IPAB through ObamaCare and calling for empowering the board further in his recent budget speech shows where his current thinking lies. And although a powerful unelected board like IPAB flies in the face of our representative republic, it’s understandable why Obama will likely choose this course: he and his fellow Democrats cannot politically afford to be held directly accountable for such deep Medicare cuts, so they set up an unaccountable board do their dirty work for them.
For our part, we have to ask ourselves the question: What kind of future do you want, one where distant bureaucrats effectively decide what services are available to us, or one where you can choose for yourself, as done in every other marketplace? This is the choice we are currently being presented, make sure to let your opinion known to your elected officials.
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