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“Death panels by proxy”

As John notes in the post immediately below, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have refused to allow the final text of their health care bill to be posted online prior to their vote on it. They claim the language is too technically difficult for ordinary people to understand, so that releasing the text would just sow confusion.
More likely, the Dems don’t want people to see language like that which appears at pages 80-81 of the bill. There it says: ” “Beginning in 2015, payment [under Medicare] would be reduced by five percent if an aggregation of the physician’s resource use is at or above the 90th percentile of national utilization.” Thus, in any year in which a particular doctor’s average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor’s payments by 5 percent.”
This Washington Times editorial explains the consequences:

if a doctor authorizes expensive care, no matter how successfully, the government will punish him by scrimping on what already is a low reimbursement rate for treating Medicare patients. The incentive, therefore, is for the doctor always to provide less care for his patients for fear of having his payments docked. And because no doctor will know who falls in the top 10 percent until year’s end, or what total average costs will break the 10 percent threshold, the pressure will be intense to withhold care, and withhold care again, and then withhold it some more. Or at least to prescribe cheaper care, no matter how much less effective, in order to avoid the penalties.

This is certainly a form of rationing. And the editors of the Times don’t exaggerate when they say that, while there are no formal death panels, the Democrats’ bill will give us the functional equivalent, except that the accountants who serve as the “proxy” panel won’t know whose deaths they are causing.

Recommend this Power Line article to your Facebook friends.

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