Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

July 27, 2009

BRODER IS HARD TO PLEASE.... In his latest column, the Washington Post's David Broder takes aim at a provision of health care reform that he finds potentially problematic: the creation of an Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC).

As proponents see it, appointed IMAC members -- physicians and medical experts -- would have some added authority to help control what Medicare pays doctors and hospitals. The panel would ideally help lower costs more effectively than Congress.

The idea makes Broder uncomfortable.

Americans are familiar with -- if not altogether comfortable about -- unelected officials exercising great authority over our lives. The nine justices on the Supreme Court and hundreds of other jurists exert their power from the bench. The economy is managed by the Federal Reserve Board, though no one ever forced Alan Greenspan or Ben Bernanke to campaign for a vote.

If President Obama has his way, another such unelected authority will be created -- a manager and monitor for the vast and expensive American health-care system. As part of his health-reform effort, he is seeking to launch the Independent Medicare Advisory Council, or IMAC, a bland title for a body that could become as much an arbiter of medicine as the Fed is of the economy or the Supreme Court of the law.

The idea has gained a warm initial reaction on Capitol Hill. But with the delay in action on the overall reform effort until fall, there will be more time for reflection on IMAC and its authority.

Broder concluded that "Americans will have to decide" if they're comfortable with "five unelected IMAC commissioners" determining "how they will be treated when they are ill."

I'm a little surprised by Broder's apprehension. After all, the IMAC idea was proposed by the right, and accepted by the left, as part of a larger effort to save money and take political considerations out of the process. In other words, it's an idea with bipartisan appeal, with an eye towards fiscal responsibility. Isn't this exactly the kind of policymaking Broder says he wants?

Mark Kleiman added, "Forget the fact that the 'five unelected commissioners' will be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, that their recommendations can't take effect without the President's approval, and that even then they could be over-ridden by the Congress. I'd rather have five unelected commissioners, or five names drawn at random from the phone book, determine how I will be treated than have that determination made by an unelected insurance-company bureaucrat whose employer makes money by denying me care."

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Does anyone give a rat's ass about David Broder anymore? Does anyone even read him?

Posted by: g. powell on July 27, 2009 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone give a rat's ass about David Broder anymore? Does anyone even read him?

Politicians and the other Villagers still think he's The Dean. So unfortunately, the answer is 'yes,' even though he's an absolutely terrible commentator nowadays.

Funny how the WaPo op-ed page's two marquee names - Broder and Will - are both worse than useless in terms of adding to the public's understanding of policy issues.

And because they're the WaPo's marquee names, there isn't a prayer of getting rid of them. Hell, they won't axe anyone from their op-ed page, not even deadweight like Richard Cohen or Robert J. Samuelson.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on July 27, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

We run huge risks of compromised care if an unelected panel has input.

It's like government-run healthcare, only scarier.

The only safe choice is leaving your healthcare decisions up to your insurance provider.

Posted by: Broder's brain on July 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Chuchki Kraughthummer

Posted by: FRP on July 27, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

I cannot get Wise, Virginia out of my mind, sorry. The sight of 2000 waiting in a field for healthcare this past week, this morning our medical man Dr Sanjay Gupta was busy interviewing Lance Armstrong, at least the German and the Japanese media were in
Virginia.

Posted by: J.Sykes on July 27, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

"Chuchki Kraughthummer" - Doesn't he have the prime time slot on FAUX's German affiliate, "The Reperbahn Channel"? Or is that the same network, they foist on folks over here?

Posted by: berttheclock on July 27, 2009 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

I'd rather have five names drawn at random from the phone book writing op-eds for the Post than continue with David Broder, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Richard Cohen, and Robert Samuelson. It could only improve the quality of the product.

Posted by: aretino on July 27, 2009 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

"Americans are familiar with -- if not altogether comfortable about -- unelected officials exercising great authority over our lives."

Broder should be more specific about who he is speaking for when he writes that "Americans are not altogether comfortable..." . I, for one, AM altogether comfortable with unelected judges and and an unelected Fed, among others.

Evidentally, Broder is the keeper of right-wing talking points. The premise that "unelected officials" in our midst is, by definition, bad is a fucked up premise to begin with.

Posted by: Chris on July 27, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Broder on this one - if an IMAC panel, with no accountability to Congress, gets loaded up with Conservative ideologues the way that the Supreme Court has - we could be looking at decades of damage to the health-care system & years of misery for the people.

Liberals in Congress need to think about that.

Posted by: sidewinder on July 27, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Broder fancies himself as the wise, all-seeing eye that is on constant lookout for "bipartisanship" as he defines it.

What Broder really is is a defender of the status quo in the guise of someone who desires comity via bipartisanship. Plus, older gents like him are uncomfortable with change.

Posted by: terraformer on July 27, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Does "expert specialists, hand picked by the president" sound better than "unelected officials"?

What about those "unelected officials" in charge of our military, protecting America and our way of life? I don't remember voting for any of the Generals.

Broder is a tool.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on July 27, 2009 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

On Bloomberg this morning, there is the headline

"Aetna Lowers Full-Year Forecast As Rises in Medical Costs Erode Premiums".

i.e. even in an environment of rising joblessness, economic stagnation, and zero inflation, medical costs are going to force further increases in healthcare premiums.

Without an overhaul, the only people who will have heatlhcare coverage in the future will be Goldman Sachs partners.

Posted by: bob h on July 27, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

If an IMAC panel, with no accountability to Congress, gets loaded up with Conservative ideologues the way that the Supreme Court has - we could be looking at decades of damage to the health-care system & years of misery for the people.

Liberals in Congress need to think about that.

So Congress should propose to do little or nothing because of the fear that recent events could reoccur ?

I gather that in the case of the recent blathering about Constitution (which makes no allusion to specific God's or a Christ) being subverted into a document that is now celebrated as chronicle of our (white) "Judaeo-Christian" heritage . Our responsibility to the non-existent inferences in these rantings should permit our segregation of believers from non believers . Even if it hurts our charitable feelings towards our neighbours . Even if it hurts our charitable (non white , non Protestant , Muslim) neighbours feelings to death .
While we are busy doing nothing a brand new history is being written (fantasy sara) to replace the old inefficient one , the one loaded with unpleasant contradictions (facts) .

Posted by: FRP on July 27, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

File this under the "Anything to muddy the water" category.

Sadly, our very Blue City of Portland, will find this in the Oregonian's Fair and Balanced section of the Op-Eds. They love to flood the paper with Will, Broder, Lowery and several local RepuG and Libertarian views. Not to forget their usual formula of placing Krugman on the left with David Brooks on the right of the Sunday Opinion section as they did, yesterday, regarding healthcare.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 27, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Kleinman is right on this one: the healthcare debate boils down to a choice between some sort of government interference in the "marketplace" of health insurance, or leaving it all to private companies trying to make larger and larger profits. Frankly, as much as I don't much like the way government officials run many things in this county, I'd rather have my medical decisions made by a government bureaucrat who simply doesn't care about me or my health problems than an insurance-company bureaucrat who is actively trying to screw me.

Posted by: ReallyFedUp on July 27, 2009 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Unelected officials in the insurance industry already determine David Broder's health care.

Posted by: qwerty on July 27, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Then by all means, let's elect them. I don't care how they get there.

Posted by: coral on July 27, 2009 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

"If an IMAC panel, with no accountability to Congress, gets loaded up with Conservative ideologues "

That's like saying don't have a baby because it might get infected with AIDS someday.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on July 27, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

As a progressive supporter of health care reform and one who has worked on federal health policy for 20+ years, I'd like to say that Broder is dumb, but the beefed-up MedPAC idea is even dumber. It's putting the Village Idiot on steroids. MedPAC has a nasty longstanding habit of tunnel vision, swaying to political pressure, engaging in willful ignorance, extremely bad data collection and math -- and wrapping it all in arrogance as a thing veil of faux objectivity. The Left should kick this extremely bad idea back to the Right, then kick both into the gutter.

Posted by: Russell on July 27, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Broder dislikes it because it represents an agreement between conservatives and liberals and makes healthcare more likely to pass.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 27, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked, shocked! to be told that, once again, David Broder has gotten it wrong.

This worthless hack hasn't gotten anything right on any subject he's written on, going back to 1969 when he told the Democrats they'd better get on board with Richard Nixon about the war in Vietnam since he had his hand on the "pulse of the American people." He even advised Woodward and Bernstein that they were going to get people angry at them if they pursued this "second rate burglary."

Posted by: TCinLA on July 27, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

So Medicare today, which covers like 1/6 of all Americans, does not have a department that considers ways to cut/control/manage costs?

They do. Certain procedures pay certain "allowable" amounts, certain procedures are only payable a given number of times, for a given diagnosis, done in a certain setting , by a certain kind of provider, etc., etc.

Claims which violate the procedures are rejected, and providers which accept Medicare patients are contractually bound to write off the charges for the denied claims - can't bill the patients. (They do though, sometimes).

Providers which bill suspicious numbers of procedures, or give too many expensive diagnoses are investigated.

This is done in private insurance AND in Medicare already. So this proposal (which I don't know if I support or not) is basically a bureaucratic shakeup or reorganization.

Posted by: flubber on July 27, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Broder fancies himself as the wise, all-seeing eye that is on constant lookout for "bipartisanship" as he defines it.

That definition, of course, being "do what the Republicans want."

Posted by: Gregory on July 27, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

"The idea makes Broder uncomfortable."

Anything that Broder eats that doesn't have some laxitive properties probably makes him uncomfortable, too.

Posted by: TRNC on July 27, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

David "Karl Rove" Broder has bben pushing right wing bullshit for years but this is the supreme sell out.

Krugman has a blog piece on Broder's concern trolling: "Ive been watching commentary from Broder and other centrist pundits like Robert Samuelson, and I think I see a pattern. They complain a lot about rising public spending, but confronted with any actual proposal to control spending, they reject it unless it has one crucial attribute: it must weaken the social safety net. Unless you end up slashing benefits, or denying health care to more people, its not what theyre looking for."

Broder's a contemptible, duplicitous POS and is symbolic and symptomatic of the descent of the WashingtonPost into hackery.

Posted by: Me Again on July 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

"I'd rather have five unelected commissioners, or five names drawn at random from the phone book, determine how I will be treated than have that determination made by an unelected insurance-company bureaucrat whose employer makes money by denying me care."

This is the very thought that occurred to me as I started reading the article. I also like the point made that none of our military are elected.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on July 28, 2009 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly