Howard Dean Admits Obamacare Includes Death Panels, Wants Them Repealed

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 29, 2013   |   11:45AM   |   Washington, DC

When Congress debated Obamacare, pro-life advocates and Republicans like Sarah Palin were castigated for claiming the government-run health care program would include death panels that would ration health care treatment.

Now, former presidential candidate Howard Dean has essentially admitted they were right and is calling for the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Monday he called the IPAB “essentially a health-care rationing body” that he believes will fail.

“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,” Dean wrote.

Dean, who is a healthcare industry representative as a senior adviser at the law and lobbying firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, said his experience  as governor of Vermont turned him off to government control of healthcare prices.

“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,” Dean wrote.

“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,” Dean added. “Most important, once again, these kinds of schemes do not control costs. The medical system simply becomes more bureaucratic.”

There does have to be control of costs in our health-care system, Mr. Dean writes, but rate setting “has a 40-year track record of failure.”

More on Dean’s article:

Dean writes that in order to have a secure future, the country has to move away from fee-for-service medicine, “which is all about incentives to spend more, and has no incentives in the system to keep patients healthy. The IPAB has no possibility of helping to solve this major problem and will almost certainly make the system more bureaucratic and therefore drive up administrative costs.”



The IPAB was labeled a “death panel” by Republicans in the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections; among its most prominent critics was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

On the campaign trail last year, Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, said that with the board, Mr. Obama “puts a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of Medicare, who are required to cut Medicare in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.”

PolitiFact rated the claim “mostly false,” but Mr. Dean has provided some high-profile bipartisan opposition to the board.

“The IPAB will cause frustration to providers and patients alike, and it will fail to control costs,” Mr. Dean wrote. “When, and if, the atmosphere on Capitol Hill improves and leadership becomes interested again in addressing real problems instead of posturing, getting rid of the IPAB is something Democrats and Republicans ought to agree on.”