Wednesday, December 23, 2009 1 Response
Last weekend while you were preparing for the holidays with your family, Harry Reid’s Senate was making shady backroom deals to ram through the Democrat health care take-over. The Senate ended debate on this bill without even reading it. That and midnight weekend votes seem to be standard operating procedures in D.C. No one is certain of what’s in the bill, but Senator Jim DeMint spotted one shocking revelation regarding the section in the bill describing the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board), which is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients – also known as rationing. Apparently Reid and friends have changed the rules of the Senate so that the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote. Senator DeMint said:
“This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law. I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates. I mean, we want to bind future congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.”
In other words, Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?
The Congressional Budget Office seems to think that such rationing has something to do with cost. In a letter to Harry Reid last week, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf noted (with a number of caveats) that the bill’s calculations call for a reduction in Medicare’s spending rate by about 2 percent in the next two decades, but then he writes the kicker:
“It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.”
Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call “death panels” the “lie of the year,” this type of rationing – what the CBO calls “reduc[ed] access to care” and “diminish[ed] quality of care” – is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor.
This health care bill is one of the most far-reaching and expensive expansions of the role of government into our lives. We’re talking about putting one-seventh of our economy under the government’s thumb. We’re also talking about something as intimate to our personal well-being as medical care.
This bill is so unpopular that people on the right and the left hate it. So why go through with it? The Senate is planning to vote on this on Christmas Eve. Why the rush? Though we will begin paying for this bill immediately, we will see no benefits for years. (That’s the trick that allowed the CBO to state that the bill won’t grow the deficit for the next ten years.)
The administration’s promises of transparency and bipartisanship have been broken one by one. This entire process has been defined by midnight votes on weekends, closed-door meetings with industry lobbyists, and payoffs to politicians willing to sell their principles for sweetheart deals. Is it any wonder that Americans are so disillusioned with their leaders in Washington?
This is about politics, not health care. Americans don’t want this bill. Americans don’t like this bill. Washington has stopped listening to us. But we’re paying attention, and 2010 is coming.
- Sarah Palin