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ObamaCare's IPAB as a property rights problem

September 06, 2012 J









As many people have argued for centuries, the right to self-ownership is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of property rights. America’s ongoing debate over health care reform is becoming increasingly more contentious as government — most recently, under ObamaCare (which proponents call the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”) — increasingly intrudes upon the individual’s right to self-ownership in the area of medical decision-making.

Take IPAB (please!). President Obama plans to use his IPAB (Independent Payments Advisory Board) to take $716 billion out of Medicare over ten years and spend that money on new ObamaCare entitlements for the working and non-working poor and the middle class. IPAB is a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats whose job will be to control the rapid growth in Medicare spending through dramatic cuts to doctors and hospitals. IPAB’s government-imposed budget caps will cause shortages of health care goods and services. The longer wait times that result will cause negative medical outcomes for the elderly, who are some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Of course, it was never a good idea to get tens of millions of Americans to become dependent upon the federal government for old-age medical care. But America must keep its promises to people who are too old or too poor to suddenly start working and saving more to pay for the high insurance premiums associated with old age. Having IPAB do back-door government rationing through budget caps on redlined medical procedures is a blatant and harmful violation of this country’s promises to elderly Americans.

America needs to return to a constitutional system of property rights, including the right of individuals to make health care decisions about their own lives. Congressman Paul Ryan’s RoadMap plan will move America toward a long-term system in which the overwhelming majority of individuals will pay for their own health care needs and save and invest money, tax-free, to pay for medical expenses falling under their deductibles and to pay for their own future insurance premiums as they get older. Under a truly free-market system of health insurance, individuals in the future wouldhave fully portable insurance plans that would not allow them to become dependent upon their employers (or the government) for coverage. In the short run, the bipartisan Ryan-Wyden premium support plan will help to move Medicare toward a sustainable fiscal path (avoiding gigantic tax increases, which are also property rights violations), while preserving seniors’ control over their health care decisions.

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