“Death panels” are making a comeback.
About ten years ago, a bipartisan group of legislators led by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin helped neuter a part of ObamaCare known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This 15-member bureaucratic body had been tasked with cutting Medicare costs — a goal that would have been partially accomplished by rationing care to seniors. Hence the cryptic moniker. The backlash led to explicit language in the Affordable Care Act that any cost savings achieved by this board could not come as the result of denying care.
Today, politicians and patient advocacy groups must redouble their efforts to fight the death panels’ reincarnation: The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER). This Boston-based nonprofit, seeded with nearly $20 million from the left-wing Arnold Foundation, is promoting its framework to determine whether pharmaceutical drugs are valuable enough to warrant government and private health insurance coverage — decisions that have life and death consequences for some patients.