Obamacare could lead to rationed care, experts warn

15 bureaucrats could cut services, choke off access to treatment

March 6, 2012

Expert witnesses warned lawmakers Tuesday that a provision in President Obama’s health care law could lead to rationed care or even prevent physicians from treating Medicare patients.

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member panel of political appointees with far-reaching powers to cut federal spending on Medicare. The board was established as part of the Affordable Care Act, and is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., a resident fellow at the nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute, told Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) that the ability of health care providers to treat patients would "absolutely" be effected by the cuts likely to be imposed by IPAB.

Administration officials claim that IPAB will be prohibited from rationing care. However, the term "rationing" is not defined in the new law. Roskam asked if the cuts enforced by IPAB could lead to "per se rationing."

ROSKAM: Rationing, as you know, is not defined in the statute. Let me ask you this: Can you have per se rationing based on what the Independent Payment Advisory Board makes decisions to reimburse?

GOTTLIEB: Sure, you're going to have payment driven so low in some settings that certain services won't be available. Physicians won't be available to take patients.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would repeal IPAB. The bill, authored by Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), is expected to pass the House with bipartisan support. Nearly 20 House Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors.

IPAB supporters include the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank under fire for its association with anti-Semitic rhetoric.