Conservatives for Medicare Waste


I keep hearing conservatives complain that the deficit-reducing elements of the health reform bill aren’t serious enough. Maybe they should direct those complaints to hacks like John McCormack at The Weekly Standard who are trying to gut those elements rather than to the people to reduce the growth in Medicare spending:

Sarah Palin takes aim at the health care bill’s provision to make it out of order for future Congresses to repeal or amend the section creating the Independent Medicare Advisory Board, which, writes Palin “is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients – also known as rationing”:

Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?

Apparently Bill Kristol and Rush Limbaugh have also chimed in with the view that IMAC is a “death panel.” Julian Sanchez has been noting lately that the conservatism-as-ressentiment impulse that Sarah Palin represents is fairly inimical to actual conservative policy objectives. One could say much the same for the sensationalism and partisanship represented by Kristol and Limbaugh.

But to review, the Independent Medicare Advisory Panel relates to Medicare. Medicare is a taxpayer-financed government programs. Conservatives are supposed to want such programs to spend as little money as possible. The idea of IMAC is that if we had payment rates set by a semi-autonomous expert panel rather than determined by whose lobbyists have the most sway on the Hill, we can reduce Medicare spending in a way that doesn’t compromise the quality of patient care. I have no earthly idea why any conservative who took his alleged principles seriously would complain about this.

But the main message being put forward by the right seems to be that “socialism” for anyone under the age of 65 would be horrible, but also that any effort to control the growth in spending of Medicare is a “death panel.”