Government Research Promotes Obamacare Rationing

| March 15 2013
John Walker

Leave it to the unholy alliance between academia and the federal government to come up with a piece of widely publicized research that promotes the most insidious aspect of Obamacare – – the rationing of Medicare to millions of senior citizens.

This bit of government propaganda posing as research, titled “A 10-Year Mortality Index for Older Adults,” was compiled by medical researchers at the University of California/San Francisco. It was funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Additional funding was provided by the American Federation for Aging Research.

The Mortality Index, aimed at people aged 50 and over, is based on 12 questions that measure a patient’s lifestyle and overall health condition. Points are awarded for each question with the aim of assisting doctors in assessing the wisdom of medical intervention to increase life expectancy.

As reported by the Associated Press, “The test scores may satisfy people’s morbid curiosity, but the researchers say their 12- item index is mostly for use by doctors. It can help them decide whether costly health screenings or medical procedures are worth the risk for patients unlikely to live 10 more years.”

Dr. Marisa Cruz, one of the research authors, emphasized that the index is not meant as guidance about how patients can alter their lifestyle.

“Instead,” Cruz said, “doctors can use the results to help patients understand the pros and cons of such things as rigorous diabetes treatment, colon cancer screening and tests for cervical cancer. Those may not be safe for very sick, old people likely to die before cancer ever develops.”

In other words, the government-sponsored research is a preview of coming attractions for millions of retiring baby boomers who sign up for Medicare every day. It gives them a glimpse of what they will be up against when Obamacare cuts payments to doctors and hospitals and uses rationing to cut costs.

The research is no dusty document destined for the bookshelf and. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and received widespread publicity through the Associated Press.

It won’t be long before Medicare patients face the rationing restrictions under Obamacare. The vehicle is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) that will spring into action next January. The Board will be a 15-member panel of unelected bureaucrats appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. There is no requirement that the board be bipartisan.

In a penetrating analysis of IPAB published last year in Forbes Magazine, Dr. Scott W Atlas, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, succinctly outlined the purpose and origin of the rationing panel.

“It’s mission is specific – to restrict payments to doctors and hospitals in order to achieve a reduction in Medicare spending beneath a specified cap,” Atlas wrote.

Atlas went on to state that IPAB represents what he called “an unprecedented shift of power from individual Americans and their families to a centralized authority, a controlling Board of political appointees that is virtually unaccountable” and will become President Obama’s version of the rationing board used in Great Britain’s socialized medical system, the National Health Service.

Atlas notes that Obama and Obamacare supporters are careful to point out that the administration’s health care law prohibits rationing. Atlas calls this “implausible deniability” absent any definition of rationing in the law and the obvious point that cuts in payments to doctors and hospitals will create de facto rationing.

Atlas recounts the dismal record of healthcare rationing in England where the practice has been in force for over a decade. He notes that 90 percent of England’s hospital trusts ration care by following a long list of recommendations that reject treatments and limit access to life-saving drugs.

Atlas adds that a board of experts, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), formulates the recommendations that place the government’s assessment of the benefits to patients ahead of choices made by individuals or families.

IPAB is a direct descendent of NICE. The British system is a favorite of Dr. Donald Berwick, Obama’s first choice for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick served in the post during the President’s first term on a recess appointment after encountering serious opposition to confirmation in the Senate.

Before his appointment, Berwick delivered the verdict on rationing that clearly stated his long-held view: “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care – the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

The recently released government-sponsored “research” on limiting care to seniors to cut costs is only the beginning. Senior citizens should brace themselves for an onslaught of propaganda to convince them that when it comes to treatment under Medicare, less is really more.

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