“Death panels” are not dead. Although the “death panel” argument against the Affordable Care Act has been debunked, shot down, mortality injured and ostensibly killed, it continues to rise from the dead, as right-wingers and people determined to prevent “Obamacare” from helping millions of Americans get the affordable health insurance they desperately need.
The laughable “death panel” notion has been around since 2009, when Sarah Palin made it a [bogus] rallying cry. At Media Matters, you can read all the sorry details of the lies that have been told by Fox News and others about the ACA provision that creates the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Essentially, the argument is that IPAB is a “rationing board,” that will decide who lives and who dies. The facts, in fact, do not bear out that contention. But the truth has not stopped Obamacare deniers from resurrecting the “death panel” lie again and again.
FACT: Law Does Not Allow IPAB To Recommend Rationing Health Care
Health Care Law Explicitly States That IPAB Cannot Make “Any Recommendation To Ration Health Care.” The text of the ACA confirms that IPAB cannot make “any recommendation to ration health care… or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria”:
The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost- sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria. [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed 8/13/13, OpenCongress.org]
PolitiFact: IPAB “Wouldn’t Make Any Health Care Decisions For Individual Americans.” A PolitiFact analysis of the claim that IPAB would make the final decision on available treatments found that IPAB would make broad policy decisions, not individual recommendations. It also noted that IPAB is “forbidden from submitting ‘any recommendation to ration health care'”:
The health care law directs a new national board — with 15 members who are political appointees — to identify Medicare savings. It’s forbidden from submitting “any recommendation to ration health care,” as Section 3403 of the health care law states. It may not raise premiums for Medicare beneficiaries or increase deductibles, coinsurance or co-payments. The IPAB also cannot change who is eligible for Medicare, restrict benefits or make recommendations that would raise revenue.
What it can do is reduce how much the government pays health care providers for services, reduce payments to hospitals with very high rates of re-admissions or recommend innovations that cut wasteful spending. Some argue that because the IPAB can reduce the money a doctor receives, this could lead to an indirect form of rationing.
But the board wouldn’t make any health care decisions for individual Americans. Instead, as PolitiFact Georgia reported, it would make broad policy decisions that affect Medicare’s overall cost. [PolitiFact, 10/3/12]
Wash. Post‘s Glenn Kessler: The ACA “Explicitly Says That The Recommendations Cannot Lead To Rationing Of Health Care.” Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote that IPAB “appears aimed at doing the same thing as the House Republican Medicare plan”:
The health-care law explicitly says that the recommendations cannot lead to rationing of health care. Of course, “rationing” is in the eye of beholder, and one common complaint is that rationing is not defined. The law also limits recommendations that would change benefits, modify eligibility or increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing, such as deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.
On the surface, the IPAB appears aimed at doing the same thing as the House Republican Medicare plan — reducing the runaway costs of Medicare, except on a faster track. (The GOP plan would not kick in until 2021, just a few years before the Medicare hospital fund begins to run dry.) [The Washington Post, 10/4/12]
PolitiFact: “Of All The Falsehoods And Distortions In The Political Discourse This Year, “Death Panels “Stood Out From The Rest.” In December 2009, PolitiFact named “death panels” its 2009 “Lie of the Year”:
Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.
The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.
Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really ?”
The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times , have chosen it as our inaugural “Lie of the Year.” [PolitiFact,12/18/09]