Posted by: theheartlander | November 29, 2010

Medical tyranny

Allen West has said that ideally, we should repeal the “monstrosity” that is ObamaCare.  This was probably one of the biggest factors in his election as Congressman earlier this month.

However, since Obama would surely veto a repeal of what he considers his greatest accomplishment — and overriding a veto requires a hefty 2/3 vote in both the House and the Senate — a complete repeal may be impossible.

Therefore, we should distinguish between good and bad things in the legislation, according to West in a recent interview.  As an example of a good thing, he cited the non-denial of insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  The bad parts of the law, meanwhile, should be defunded.  West emphasized that Congress holds the purse strings and so, ultimately, can decide to simply not authorize funding for various agencies and programs spelled out in the legislation.

I am gladder than ever that Allen West is deeply committed on this issue, after reading a recent piece by Wesley J. Smith, a bioethicist who, unlike most people in the field, is actually one of the good guys. Smith blogs at Secondhand Smoke, and is author of the books Forced Exit and Culture of Death, both of which show, among other things, how medical practice in this country — even before ObamaCare — already features “death panels,” in the form of “ethics boards” at hospitals that have been known to cut off care for people against their own wishes and/or those of their family members.

Smith is reliable; I’ve been following him for years, and he’s earned my trust as a reliable source. In his article at the Weekly Standard, he tells us that the federal health bureaucracy intends to cut Medicare costs by creating something called the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

At present, Congress is responsible for setting the policies that govern all aspects of Medicare, including payments to health care providers and facilities. That  arrangement is inevitably messy because the people have a strong say.

The creators of Obamacare saw the ability of constituents to influence their representatives as a problem. Saying, in effect, “Stop us before we spend again,” Democrats transferred most of Congress and the president’s policy-making authority to the 15 “expert” members of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. If this board determines that the growth of Medicare costs will exceed a predetermined target, it has the power to enact a remedy through “fast track” legislation, which works like this:

• By January 15 each year, the Independent Payment Advisory Board must submit a proposal to Congress and the president for reaching Medicare savings targets in the coming year. The majority leaders in the House and Senate must introduce bills incorporating the board’s proposal the day they receive it.

Death panels• Congress cannot “consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report  …  that would repeal or otherwise change the recommendations of the board” if such changes fail to meet the board’s budgetary target.

• By April 1, the committees of jurisdiction must complete their consideration of the proposal. Any committee that fails to meet the deadline is barred from further considering the bill.

• The secretary of health and human services must implement the Independent Payment Advisory Board’s proposal, as passed by Congress and signed by the president, on August 15 of the year in which the proposal is submitted.

• If Congress does not pass the proposal or a substitute plan meeting the Independent Payment Advisory Board’s financial target before August 15, or if the president vetoes the proposal passed by Congress, the original Independent Payment Advisory Board recommendations automatically take effect.

Further demonstrating the Star Chamber-like powers of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, Congress cannot consider any bill or amendment that would repeal or change this fast-track congressional consideration process without a three-fifths vote (60) in the Senate. Not only that, but the implementation of the board’s remedy is exempted from administrative or judicial review.

[boldface mine]

Looking at this tyrannical grab of decision-making power from the people and their elected representatives by a cadre of unelected “experts,” I’m reminded of what Vladimir Lenin once said:  “Medicine is the keystone to the arch of socialism.”

Smith seems to agree, as he continues:

Nor is there any reason to believe that the Independent Payment Advisory Board’s undemocratic approach to governance would long remain limited to Medicare. If our controversy-averse elected officials ever think they can protect their jobs by delegating their most difficult decisions to unaccountable commissions—as Congress did with regard to setting its own salaries—independent “advisory” boards could proliferate. In this sense, the success of Medicare’s new cost-containment board could portend the construction of an unaccountable bureaucratic state.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they did not envisage governance by “we the experts.” Regardless of where one stands on the wisdom of Obamacare generally, the unaccountable power of the Independent Payment Advisory Board as a mini-government within a government needs to be revoked by the new Congress, and if that proves undoable, its organization and staffing should be defunded.

Congress will need to act quickly to stave off this fascistic threat.  I thank God that we’ll have such a dedicated warrior as Allen West fighting on our behalf!

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