Howard Dean: Governor Palin was right about death panels: IPAB’s “essentially a health-care rationing body”; Updated

The excitable former Vermont governor doesn’t come right out and say that, of course, but in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, he echoed the very point Governor Palin made four years ago:

One major problem is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB is essentially a health-care rationing body. By setting doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price, the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them.

To refresh your memories, here’s what Governor Palin wrote in her famous August 7, 2009 Facebook post which caused many liberals, and even some on the right who should know better, to devolve into blithering idiots:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

There’s no qualitative difference between what Governor Palin wrote four years ago and what Howard Dean wrote today. The primary function of the unaccountable bureaucrats sitting on Obamacare’s IPAB is to ration health care.  There’s no other reason for IPAB to exist. They will deny certain types of medical treatments and procedures to those individuals whom they deem unworthy of the care. For those unfortunate enough to fall into this category, the IPAB is effectively a death panel.

Dean also admits that, despite the rationing, there’s little or no chance the IPAB will be successful in controlling costs:

There does have to be control of costs in our health-care system. However, rate setting—the essential mechanism of the IPAB—has a 40-year track record of failure. What ends up happening in these schemes (which many states including my home state of Vermont have implemented with virtually no long-term effect on costs) is that patients and physicians get aggravated because bureaucrats in either the private or public sector are making medical decisions without knowing the patients. Most important, once again, these kinds of schemes do not control costs. The medical system simply becomes more bureaucratic.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has indicated that the IPAB, in its current form, won’t save a single dime before 2021. As everyone in Washington knows, but less frequently admits, CBO projections of any kind—past five years or so—are really just speculation. I believe the IPAB will never control costs based on the long record of previous attempts in many of the states, including my own state of Vermont.

So basically there’s no upside to the IPAB: We’ll get the downside of arbitrary rationing with zero cost control — which is the nominal reason for the panel’s existence.  In a rational world, an entity which produces only negative consequences would be abolished. Amazingly, Dean agrees:

…getting rid of the IPAB is something Democrats and Republicans ought to agree on.

So not only does Howard Dean agree with Governor Palin on the true purpose of the IPAB, but on the necessity of its elimination as well. Howard Dean is not the first liberal to vindicate Governor Palin on this issue. As I noted in a post over three years ago, two prominent lefties, Paul Krugman and former Obama OMB Director Peter Orszag, confirmed what Governor Palin had been saying all along: IPAB will be a death panel to those for whom the bureaucrats deny treatment. Let’s go to the video:

(h/t Brian Lerch)

Update: (h/t Steve Flesher) Twitchy weighs in: Howard Dean: Sarah Palin was right about death panels! Yeaarrggh!

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