Kathleen Sebelius makes the case:
“A key part of the president’s plan, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, has recently been the subject of inaccurate claims. Critics say it will ration care and put bureaucrats in charge of the health care system. Nothing could be further from the truth. As this debate continues, it’s important to set the record straight. Here’s how the advisory board works. It is made up of 15 health experts, including doctors, other health care professionals, employers, economists and consumer representatives. Members will be recommended by Congress, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Contrary to critics’ contentions, the board’s work will be transparent, independent and accountable to Congress and the president…Moreover, Congress will still have the final decision on any changes.”
The idea is that actual evidence will guide Medicare’s reimbursement policies. It’s no slight to consumers to point out that the average patient is unlikely to know what works and what doesn’t. Most people don’t have good enough information to second guess their doctors or haggle with their surgeons, so they’re not in any position to withhold business from inefficient providers. Republican talking points about putting consumers in charge may sound flattering, but the idea that the average patient knows what’s worth paying for better than a medical expert is just total crap. There’s massive information asymmetries that prevent health care from functioning like a real market.