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Greg Stites, Bismarck, Published October 22 2012

Letter: Berg running campaign of lies, distortions and scare tactics

I recently received a Rick Berg campaign mailing that says under Obamacare, “15 unelected bureaucrats (on the Independent Payment Advisory Board) will make your Medicare decisions.” It further alleges, “this board has the power to deny seniors’ access to health care” and its cuts “can go into effect without congressional approval.” Wow, those are powerful accusations. Then again it may not surprise you to learn that Berg is running on a gas tank full of lies and distortions that even a sixth-grader with access to the Internet can find the truth out about.

Under the law, the IPAB has the explicit task of achieving specified “savings” in Medicare without affecting coverage or quality for seniors. Why is Berg against that? Under the law, the IPAB has authority to implement cost-saving changes to the Medicare program but only with Congress (meaning Berg) being given the power to overrule the agency’s decisions. The whole idea behind the IPAB is to take power away from the monied “special interests” and give it to impartial experts knowledgeable in how best to control ever rising provider fees and costs.

However, with regard to any of IPAB’s cost-saving changes, the law states the “the proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums, … increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.”

Contrary to Berg’s assertions, the IPAB cannot by law or otherwise make “your Medicare decisions” or “deny you access to health care.” Tie that with the fact that Congress has the express power to overrule IPAB’s decisions before they go into effect and what must we conclude? That Berg has his pants on fire ... again.

Berg wants to scare seniors with distortions. And rather than offer any meaningful solutions to the health care crisis, Berg wants the old status quo back in order to serve up even more money to those special interests that have gotten rich off of the Medicare program. Berg is wrong for North Dakota.