ALG Blasts Sen. Majority Leader Reid for Making Health Care Rationing Board Unrepealable

"[O]nce passed, any attempt to remove the health care rationing board will be

deemed out of order forevermore.  People are going to die." ALG President Bill Wilson

December 22nd, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today condemned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for inserting language into the Senate health care bill that would make it nearly impossible to repeal what Wilson called a "health care rationing board."

"The Independent Medicare Advisory Board will become the Healthcare Soviet—dictating rules, rates and procedures in America's health care system with no appeal.  That is why Reid has given it the most protection," Wilson explained.

In the Reid Substitute, under Section 3403 in a section entitled "Limitations on Changes to this Subsection," it states, "It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection."

Section 3403 establishes the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB), which would "reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending" under the Reid substitute.  Wilson said that is "rationing."

"The whole purpose of this panel is to ration health care to seniors, no question," Wilson said. 

"To hide that, the bill states that 'The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care' right after it gets through establishing the power for the IMAB to ration health care," Wilson explained.

"This is Orwellian Newspeak of the first order," Wilson declared, adding, "Right in this section, Harry Reid is saying that they're going to ration health care away from seniors, but they're just not going to call it that."

"And then, to lock it in place, Reid goes as far as to require a two-thirds vote in order to amend or repeal the rationing board," Wilson explained.

The Senate rules change was exposed on the floor of the Senate by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), as reported by the National Review Online.  Senator DeMint said, "This is not legislation.  This is not law.  This is a rule change.  It's a pretty big deal.  We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a Senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or repeal the law."

DeMint said that under Senate rules, it should take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to invoke cloture on legislation that contains such rules changes.  And, that, "[A]s the chair has confirmed, Rule 22, paragraph 2, of the standing rules of the Senate, states that on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the senators present and voting."

However, the Senate President ruled that the rules change was not a rules change, but a change in procedure.

"This is completely unconstitutional," Wilson noted, pointing to Article I, Section 5 of the Federal Constitution, which states: "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings…"

"Under current rules, the Reid substitute, which includes a rules change making it out of order to amend or repeal a section of the bill, should require a two-thirds vote in order to be enacted," Wilson explained, concluding, "That has not happened, and will not happen, meaning that once passed, any attempt to remove the health care rationing board will be deemed out of order forevermore.  People are going to die."