June 6, 2013
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spoke to Congress this week; wherein she confirmed that it is the decision of a panel of medical experts that will preside over the case of 10 year old Sarah Murnaghan who is waiting for a lung transplant.
Murnaghan, who is in the advanced stages of cystic fibrosis and on a ventilator, lives in Philadelphia where the policy is that children 12 and older are able to receive lung transplants because of the sparse amount of pediatric lungs to go around.
Doctors working with Murnaghan say that she is a candidate for an adult lung.
House Representative Lou Barletta told Sebelius: “I’m begging you. Sarah has three to five weeks to live. Time is running out.”
In response to the media attention, Sebelius called for a review of Murnaghan’s case; however the family says that the little girl will not live long enough for the bureaucracy to unfold.
Sebelius said: “I can’t imagine anything worse than one individual getting to pick who lives and who dies.”
Tait Sye, spokesperson for Sebelius, explained that the issue was Pennsylvania lawmakers and policies that prevented Murnaghan from receiving her transplant. Sye said that the process was deliberative – meaning it could go on forever without end.
Murnaghan’s family is asking for policies to reflect the child’s illness, not age, when determining their right to transplant.
The bureaucracy for lung transplants states that “children under 12 are categorized as either Priority 1 or 2, while adults get a Lung Allocation Score (LAS).”
According to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN), children can be upgraded to the adult category if their sickness is advanced.
Transplant policy is decided by OPTN who works in conjunction with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS is contractually bound to the DHHS.
Indeed, since these agencies are working together, it is not out of Sebelius’ cope of employment capacity to override the decision of whether or not to give Murnaghan her transplant and save her life.
House Representative Tom Price recognizes this fact. Price told Sebelius: “[I]t simply takes your signature.”
House Representative Tom Price admonished Sebelius to “allow that lung transplant to move forward.”
Sebelius responded: “Well, Dr. Price, I appreciate your input. First, as a mother and a grandmother, I can’t imagine anything more agonizing than what the Murnaghans are going through. And I talked to Janet Murnaghan, the mother of Sarah, about this case. What I have also done is look very carefully at the history of the rules around lung transplants and organ transplants.”
Price recognizes this fact. Price told Sebelius: “It simply takes your signature. It simply takes your signature. A study I know you have ordered — and I appreciate that — but a study will take over a year. This young lady will be dead.”
Janet Murnagham, Sarah’s mother, told reporters: “[Sebelius] said ‘Oh I’m so sorry I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear’. It is in her legal authority. We’re going to let a kid die over red tape. Somebody needs to stand up and say this isn’t right. This is a human issue this isn’t politics.”
A petition has been started online by the family to demand that transplant policies be changed to allow Murnaghan to live.
At the time this article was written, 340,252 signatures were collected.
The petition explains: “Based on a 2000 ruling by the US Department of Health and Human Services, which mandated that organ allocation policies must be based on medical necessity rather than waiting time, OPTN implemented a new allocation system based on the severity of a patient’s illness (the Lung Allocation Score, or LAS), rather than the amount of time served on the wait list in 2005. This reduced the number of deaths among patients awaiting lung transplant, ensured lungs were allocated to those with less stable diagnoses, and dramatically reduced the average wait time from over two years, and reduced the wait list by half. This new approach only applied to patients over the age of 12.”
At the last minute, after the Murnaghan family sued the DHHS, a federal judge ruled that Sarah could be elevated to adult status to enable her for a lung transplant.
Sebelius spoke of a panel of medical experts thatshould preside over Murnaghan’s case. Sebelius was referring to the 15 member panel called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) that was created by Obamacare who control the dissemination of care patients can receive, have authority over the reimbursements doctors receive for administering care to patients and advise on the type of care patients can receive.
Jonathan Gruber, an economist and advisor to Obama that inspired the Affordable Care Act has been refused to be part of the IPAB. While this group is supposed to be comprised of economists, academia, members of the pharmaceutical industry, insurance industry representatives, hospital executives and medical practitioners, the IPAB is having a hard time filling spots for this “death panel”.
The IPAB is given authority over keeping the costs of healthcare low by controlling the amount and type of care patients will receive Although Congress is empowered to oversee how doctors will be paid for services rendered, those financial recommendations afforded by the IPAB are automatically adhered to.
This roundtable of “unelected bureaucrats” will make decisions, deem Americans worthy of health claims and approve or deny care to seniors. Mainstream media claims that the death panels are “expected to find savings by eliminating fraud and reducing payments to private insurance companies that work with Medicare and prescription drug providers.”
Since Congress must approve the members of the death panel, those considered for the position must be able to show their expertise in health finance, economics and medical science. A 6 month term on the death panel will reserve those who serve from “any other business, vocation or employment.”
In reality, the IPAB, in conjunction with Sebelius will implement laws without Congressional approval. Denying the law’s execution would necessitate the House, Senate and President agree on an alternate plan.
According to a study entitled, “The Independent Payment Advisory Board: PPACA’s Anti-Constitutional and Authoritarian Super-Legislature”, the IPAB’s plan would become law without Congressional approval, oversight, or even be subject to a presidential veto. Once this proposal is submitted, it is law.
The IPAB will be enabled to declare:
• Policies regarding healthcare to Congress
• Recommendations on costs, mitigating waste, prioritizing disbursement of care
• Impose taxes whether the US government pays the medical bills or not
• Ration medical care to Americans as they see fit
Congress, having the power to accept the IPAB’s recommendations can either act on them or let Sebelius do so.
The most authoritative aspect of the legislation is that “[I]f Congress misses that repeal window, PPACA prohibits Congress from ever altering an IPAB proposal.”
The legislative window for repeals extends to 2017. The Congressional Research Service has falsely interpreted this clause of complete control.
Failure to repeal in Congress by 2017 results in absolute power given to the IPAB by 2020 with no ability of Congress to change that fact. Any law the IPAB writes becomes effectual regardless of any member of the US government’s rejection of it and the over-reaching power extends to Sebelius who becomes an executive of the IPAB.
Furthermore, the IPAB would become as powerful as the executive branch of our government, with the right to appropriate funds within the DHHS own department.