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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Obama Health Care Rationing Law:

The Commission That Will Develop Standards the Administration Will Impose to Limit Private Sector Medical Care

An 18-member “Independent Payment Advisory Board” [Sec. 10320(b)] is given the duty, on January 15, 2015 and every two years thereafter, with regard to private health care, to make “recommendations to slow the growth in national health expenditures . . . that the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] or other Federal agencies can implement administratively” [Section 10320(a)(5)(o)(1)(A)]. In turn, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is empowered to impose “quality” AND “efficiency” measures [Section 10304] on health care providers (including hospices, ambulatory surgical centers, rehabilitation facilities, home health agencies, physicians and hospitals) [Section 3014(a) adding Social Security Act Section 1890(b)(7)(B)(I)] which must report on their compliance.

In complex gobbledegook, what this amounts to is that doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers will be told by Washington 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. And these will be “quality and efficiency” standards specifically designed to limit what ordinary Americans spend on health care. 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. In effect, there will be one uniform national standard of care, established by Washington bureaucrats and set with a view to limiting what private citizens are allowed to spend on saving their own lives.

(For detailed analysis of other provisions that will impose rationing, see

The Prospect of Repeal

The silver lining to this very dark cloud is that the most onerous rationing elements of the Obama health care law will not go into effect until 2015– well after the next Presidential election. For repeal to be a realistic prospect, three things are essential:

–The President who takes office in 2013 would have to be someone who would sign a repeal. (Theoretically, a two-thirds majority of both Houses committed to repeal could accomplish it even over a presidential veto, but achieving such numbers would be extremely difficult.)

– As a result of the 2010 and 2012 Congressional elections, a majority of those in the 2013 House of Representatives must support repeal.

– Also as a result of the 2010 and 2012 Congressional elections, the 2013 Senate must have an adequate majority committed to repeal. Full confidence of repeal would come from 60 of the 100 Senators supporting repeal – enough to impose cloture so as to overcome a filibuster. However, it is possible that, if the elections were clearly seen to have been greatly influenced by popular rejection of the Obama Health Care Rationing Law, then even if there were 41 or more Senators who had supported its adoption, some of them might prefer not to obstruct repeal, especially those soon up for re-election. It is also conceivable that the “reconciliation” process used to secure enactment of the health care law could be used by pro-repeal Senators to gut it with 51 votes.

While most observers expect gains by opponents of Obamacare in the election of Senators in 2010, a shift to a majority in support of repeal may not be achieved. However, in 2012, only 10 or 11 opponents of the law will be up for re-election, compared to either 23 or 24 Senators who voted for it standing for re-election. (This number depends on who wins the 2010 special election to fill Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate seat – its winner will have to face the voters again in 2012.) With these odds, the chance for pro-repeal Senators to emerge in control of the Senate in 2013 is a decent one.

In short, horrific as the enactment of the Obama Health Care Rationing Law is, now is not the time to despair. Rather, the pro-life movement must devote itself over these critical years – 2010 through 2012– to ensuring that the American people are given the facts needed to counter the placating misinformation the Obama Administration and its apologists in Congress and the press are already spreading, confident that with a spoon full of sugar we will swallow their deadly recipe. We must maintain and expand the current majority that, according to most public opinion polls, rejects the Obama Health Care Rationing Law.

(Source: National Right to Life Web Site)