“Don’t touch my Medicare!”  Ah, the battle cry of the AARP.  What a powerful political force this organization represents, powerful enough to cause some trouble for the independent payment advisory board (IPAB), an essential component of the Unaffordable Care Act.  This brake on spending  (quit paying people to do stuff and they’ll quit, sure enough) has been billed as a necessary tool to reign in out of control Medicare costs, but will, no doubt be applied to other health spending outside of the Medicare system.  House Republicans are pushing a repeal of IPAB even though this move would likely die in the Senate and certainly meet the same veto treatment as the Keystone pipeline.  

As Mises made clear in his book “Socialism,” the lack of a rational pricing system dooms all socialist regimes, as surpluses and shortages occur in undesirable sectors, lacking the discipline of the free market to provide the selling/purchasing guidelines (my apologies, once again to the Austrians out there that find my economic sound bites inadequate).  You know, not enough cancers will be treated and too many carpal tunnel surgeries will be done.  It will simply not make any sense.  No human being is smart enough to assign the “right” price to anything, much less to an entire industry.  

But that’s the point.  The price assigned by the IPAB doesn’t have to be “right.” It just has to be lower than the market demands.  That’s right.  As long as the price is lower than the market would demand on its own, the deliberate shortages, the object of this board, will result.  But think of the money we’ll save abandoning the elderly and sick!  Where was AARP when the fight to stop the Unaffordable Care Act was at high pitch?  On the side of the same bill containing this provision for the IPAB, that’s where.  Ironic that their having sold the young down the river for the benefit of their constituency has come full circle to bite them.

So welcome aboard, AARP in the fight to stop IPAB.  Never thought I’d see this outfit on the right side of anything.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.