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Here's why GOP official says he focuses on 'death panels'

Bill Akins, secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee, at the U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis town hall meeting Saturday, Feb. 11 in New Port Richey.

Special to the Times

Bill Akins, secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee, at the U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis town hall meeting Saturday, Feb. 11 in New Port Richey.

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February

UPDATE: Bill Akins said he resigned from the Pasco Republican Executive Committee on Tuesday evening.

ORIGINAL POST: Bill Akins, the secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee, has released a statement to the Tampa Bay Times explainingg why he believes "death panels'' are part of the Affordable Care Act, a claim debuned by PolitFact six years ago.

Many in the crowd of 250 people at a town hall meeting Saturday in New Port Richey shouted Akins down as he spoke. U.S. Rep. Gul Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, was host of the session. Akins later drew national ridicule when the Washington Post revealed his Facebookpage contained racist and fake news stoires and memes.

Here is Akins statement:

I’m Bill Akins the person mentioned in national articles regarding U.S. Rep. Gus Bilarakis’ Feb. 11, 2017, town hall meeting. First let me say that at the town hall meeting, nor in any interview, did I say I was representing the Republican Executive Committee (REC) of Pasco County, nor representing the GOP in any way. I was there as a private citizen.

The only reason I even mentioned my REC secretarial position was because the majority of people speaking were saying they were this officer with this Democrat or women’s club, or a teacher or stating what they did or are. I saw no reason at the time for me to not do likewise.

Regarding my calling the crowd "children" due to their shouting "liar" and loud disrespectful booing and chanting, against both myself, every other conservative who got up to speak, as well as doing the same to U.S. Rep. Bilirakis, if I offended anyone’s sensibilities by calling them "children," I apologize since that was not my intention. My intention was to appeal to them to act like adults and have a civil, polite, respectful town hall meeting.

I do not apologize for bringing the Independent Payment Advisory Board of the Affordable Health Care Act into the town hall conversation. I stand by my calling it a "death panel." Some people may call it other terms like a potential "rationing panel" or "cost reduction panel," but many other people beside myself have also labeled it as a "death panel," so I am not alone in that.

Regarding where I mentioned age 74 in the "death panel" at the town hall meeting, I can best describe that by citing a Feb. 13,, 2015, LifeNews.com article entitled Death Panels: New 29-Point Checklist Determines if Elderly Person May Die in 30 Days.

It states:

In addition to the ACA’s death panel language, there are shocking discrepancies between mainstream medical recommendations for preventive and diagnostic care, and provisions for such care as recommended by the federal government. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (PSTF) is the Congress-appointed body whose job is to recommend guidelines for preventive services, screenings, and medications.

In conjunction with Obamacare, the Task Force recommendations have become conspicuously stingier. For example, the Task Force only recommends routine mammograms for women ages 50-74, while the Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society both recommend annual mammograms for women over age 40 (without the cap at age 74). In fact, findings from a large study indicate that breast cancer deaths decreased by nearly 30 percent in women who obtained annual screenings starting at age 40. Similar discrepancies exist between Task Force recommendations for colonoscopies and prostate cancer screenings, and those of widely-respected medical associations. According to the Annals of Family Medicine, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (at the time of this 2015 article) (currently Sylvia Burwell; formerly disgraced Kathleen Sebelius) possesses the power to add and remove preventive services based on their rating by the Preventive Services Task Force.

This is the link http://www.lifenews.com/2015/02/13/death-panels-new-29-point-checklist-determines-if-elderly-person-may-die-in-30-days/

And that is where my town hall meeting comment regarding age 74 within the ACA and the IPAB death panel came in. But due to general disruption, I was unable to finish my comments to explain either IPAB or how this affected citizens age 74 and older and was unable to ask U.S. Rep. Bilirakis if any type of IPAB board would be considered for any ACA replacement bill. Since President Obama never nominated the ACA’s Independent Payment Advisory Board’s 15 members, that means the sole authority of that IPAB would default to the secretary of HHS. The same HHS secretary who would be the sole recommender of modifications in the ACA if none of the 15 members of the panel were selected. The same HHS secretary who possesses the power to add and remove preventive services (mammograms for women age 74 and older) based on the ratings of the Preventative Services Task Force.

The PolitiFact 2009 assertion that death panels did not exist in 2009 is not relevant to 2017 where they do exist in the affordable health care act as that act affects Medicare. Also regarding PolitiFact saying it was the "2009 lie of the year" I would point out that the affordable health care act was not even passed until March 23, 2010. Remember Nancy Pelosi telling us all that it had to pass before we could know what was in it? In 2009 it was still being formulated. And yet some media keeps touting the PolitiFact so called debunking of Obamacare death panels as if it is a fact and unfairly and erroneously calling me a liar for my pointing out that a death panel (IPAB) does indeed still exist in the act.

What many of these media sources have not told you is that U.S. Rep. Bilirakis repeatedly backed me up on that and confirmed that the Independent Payment Advisory Board is the death panel of which I was referencing. The Independent Payment Advisory Board is a panel that issues recommendations for reducing Medicare’s cost, subject to congressional oversight and approval. It is in the act but has not yet been activated as many other "time bombs" in the act have not yet been activated but are in the ACA.

It is expected that the Independent Payment Advisory Board will be activated sometime in 2017, but it may take longer. The law’s rationing mechanism, officially called "Independent Payment Advisory Board" also known as the Obamacare "death panel" is still in place and threatens to cause major damage to the health care system if the ACA were to be kept intact.

I and many others call a rationing mechanism . "a death panel" since it deprives citizens of lifesaving health-care through rationing. My entire purpose at the town hall meeting was to bring this to U.S. Rep. Bilirakis’ attention (I found out there that he already knew) and citizens’ attention since I believe any health care replacement bill should not contain a rationing mechanism/ death panel. IPAB was created to take authority from elected officials and put it in the hands of unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services. Its purpose is to obscure any rationing decisions from public accountability.

Since this board is still existing in the act but not yet activated until Medicare expenditures reach a certain level, this means if the ACA were not changed or repealed, once it activated, the single person that is secretary of HHS would have the sole authority to write or re-write the recommendations and regulations and impact rationing of health-care services in Medicare since the Affordable Health Care Act controls Medicare and submit them to Congress for passage. In view of the fact Tom Price was confirmed as the Secretary of HHS the night prior to the town hall meeting, I felt bringing up this subject was a timely matter.

If those IPAB recommendations stipulated that unless some form of rationing took place, the ACA might be unsustainable, then Congress would have the authority to act on IPAB recommendations to do away with the safeguards in the rules to make the ACA sustainable and that would mean forms of rationing would take place in spite of the current language of the ACA rules. That is why this portion of the ACA is referred to as a "death panel." In the town hall meeting, as well as on record with CNN, U.S. Rep. Bilirakis said that the Republican party has tried several times to repeal the IPAB provision and that indeed he voted for its repeal. Some media sources are not reporting the details on IPAB nor on what transpired at the town hall meeting.

See CNN’s article at http://wqad.com/2017/02/11/death-panel-disputes-erupt-at-florida-gop-congressmans-town-hall/

I would like to reference Tom Howell of the Washington Times who wrote a June 23, 2015 article entitled House votes to repeal Obamacare’s ‘death panel’ Available at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/23/death-panel-repealed-house-obamacare-vote/

I would like to reference Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner who wrote her Feb. 2, 2017 article entitled GOP will try again to repeal Obamacare "death panels’ Available at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/gop-will-try-again-to-repeal-obamacare-death-panels/article/2613741

I would like to reference Fortune reporter Sy Mukherjee’s June 22, 2016 article Obamacare’s Dreaded ‘Death Panels’ Won’t Be Triggered This Year http://fortune.com/2016/06/22/obamacare-ipab-not-triggered/

So if I’m incorrect about this death panel existing, then the House was incorrect about taking action (twice) for voting to repeal a non existent thing, and the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, Fortune, LifeNews, Texas Right to Life and any other media outlets that referenced the ACA’s IPAB as a ‘‘death panel" would have to be incorrect also.

Here’s a section concerning IPAB in the ACA:

(3) Submission of (IPAB) Board proposal to Congress and the President

(A) In general

(i) In general

Except as provided in clause (ii) and subsection (f)(3)(B), the Board shall submit a proposal under this section to Congress and the President on January 15 of each year (beginning with 2014).

(ii) Exception The Board shall not submit a proposal under clause (i) in a proposal year if the year is—

(I) a year for which the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services makes a determination in the determination year under paragraph (6)(A) that the growth rate described in clause (i) of such paragraph does not exceed the growth rate described in clause (ii) of such paragraph; or

(II) a year in which the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services makes a determination in the determination year that the projected percentage increase (if any) for the medical care expenditure category of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (United States city average) for the implementation year is less than the projected percentage increase (if any) in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (all items; United States city average) for such implementation year.

Also

(ii) The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1395i–2, 1395i–2a, or 1395r of this title, increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.

As you can see, IPAB is a "time bomb" that will activate when spending and growth rate for Medicare reach a certain level. That last section states there will be no recommendations to ration health care or raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums, deductibles, copayments, etc.

The IPAB was designed and put into the act to serve as the spending control to keep expenditures down. I’m concerned with how that spending would be controlled by the board. The citizens frequently get the short end of the stick. During the government shutdown President Obama threatened that firefighters and police would lose funding if the GOP didn’t cave to him.

Veterans have repeatedly had their cost of living increases in their benefit checks passed over or given just a fraction of a raise. Seniors are told that there isn’t enough money for a viable increase in their social security benefits, but we have many billions we gave to Iran. Also billions we give to the United Nations and foreign aid. But sorry, no money for seniors, veterans and American citizens. So exactly where do we think the IPAB cuts in spending on Medicare would come from? It would come from cutting back on health care for the folks. At the minimum, the Independent Payment Advisory Board has the potential to be a death panel. At the maximum it would be one in fact. Not only do I base my "death panel" opinion on these facts, but also on the words of Steven Rattner from this link.... http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/obama-adviser-admits-we-need-death-panels/

Here are several excerpts:

A top Democrat strategist and donor who served as President Obama’s lead auto-industry adviser recently conceded that the rationing of heath services under Obamacare is "inevitable." Steven Rattner advocated that such rationing should target elderly patients, while stating, "We need death panels." Rattner serves on the board the New America Foundation, or NAF, a George Soros-funded think tank that was instrumental in supporting Obamacare in 2010. Soros’ son, financier Jonathan Soros, is also a member of the foundation’s board. Rattner was the so-called "car czar," the lead auto adviser to the Treasury Department under Obama.

Last month, Rattner penned an opinion piece in the New York Times titled "Beyond Obamacare" in which he proclaimed "We need death panels" and argued rationing must be instructed to sustain Obama’s health-care plan. His comments have been virtually ignored by traditional media as the president campaigns for a second term. "We need death panels," began Rattner.

Rattner said the numbers don’t add up unless Obamacare utilizes rationing. "If his Independent Payment Advisory Board comes up with savings, Congress must accept either them or vote for an equivalent package," stated Rattner. "The problem is, the advisory board can’t propose reducing benefits (aka rationing) or raising fees (another form of rationing), without which the spending target looms impossibly large." Rattner singled out elderly patients for benefit cuts. He wrote: "No one wants to lose an aging parent. And with price out of the equation, it’s natural for patients and their families to try every treatment, regardless of expense or efficacy. But that imposes an enormous societal cost that few other nations have been willing to bear. Many countries whose health care systems are regularly extolled – including Canada, Australia and New Zealand – have systems for rationing care. He concluded, "At the least, the Independent Payment Advisory Board should be allowed to offer changes in services and costs." "We may shrink from such stomach-wrenching choices, but they are inescapable."

And now everyone knows why I call IPAB a "death panel" and why Republicans have tried twice to repeal that IPAB board’s provision in the Affordable Health Care Act. Let’s revisit again the ACA "rules" that stated: "(ii) The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1395i–2, 1395i–2a, or 1395r of this title, increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria."

I charge you to remember that Americans were also told their Social Security would always be in a separate interest-bearing account and not touched for anything other than for their Social Security. But that changed. We were also told (and it was even printed on our Social Security cards, I still have my original one saying it) that our Social Security cards did not have to be shown as a form of identification to anyone other than to the Social Security Administration. But that changed. We were told if we liked our doctor we could keep our doctor. But that changed. We were told that the ACA would save families an average of $2,500 per year in premiums. But that changed and premiums sky rocketed.

I have no doubt that if the ACA were to be kept intact, the promise of that "no rationing" rule provision would evaporate just like the other promises I cited. Rationing in Medicare spending would be considered by the Independent Payment Advisory Board making recommendations for Congress to pass. And that describes how the IPAB easily becomes a death panel. In reality it already is. Just a death panel waiting on the sidelines to be activated, and if any rationing recommendations from it were submitted to congress and approved by Congress, those restraints against rationing in the ACA rules would evaporate.

 

 

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 11:32am]

    

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