Repeal ObamaCare’s payment panel now

Almost half of the American people think that Obamacare has either been repealed or struck down by the courts. While they remain opposed to the law, most know little about what is actually in it and some have even become complacent.

Meanwhile, the Obamacare freight train is gaining momentum every day, ready to slam into our economy and health sector when the full force of the law hits in 2014.

The American people need to know more about what is in this law and how it will impact them.

The House of Representatives is planning a vote this week that will shine a spotlight on one of the most egregious provision of the law, the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

The IPAB puts rationing of health care on autopilot. The IPAB is to be composed of 15 unelected, unaccountable officials who will have the authority to make cuts in Medicare payments if per capita spending exceeds defined target rates.

The IPAB epitomizes Obamacare’s command-and-control approach, and passing a targeted repeal bill is an excellent way to help people understand that.

Opposition to the IPAB crosses party lines. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, has said he has no interest in defending the board: “I’ve never supported it, and I would certainly be in favor of abolishing it.”

Some conservatives, however, are balking at taking this targeted vote. They worry that the House leadership may improve the law and make it harder to repeal.

But Obamacare is so monstrously bad that we could repeal a provision a week for years, and the law would still be toxic. It cannot be fixed, but if we don’t shine a light on some of the worst provisions, we will cede the terrain to the president to talk only about the few small things that already have taken effect — pretending that is all the law does.

Even after the House votes, the legislation faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has introduced an IPAB repeal bill. President Obama would surely lobby Democrats to keep it from passing, and he already has vowed to veto any repeal effort.

The U.S. Constitution gives the power of the purse to Congress so that elected representatives can be accountable to the voters for spending decisions. The IPAB would turn this principle upside-down.

And there will be no judicial, administrative or, realistically, congressional review over IPAB’s decisions. This is yet another unconstitutional provision of Obamacare that already is being challenged in the courts by the Goldwater Institute in Arizona.

Because the IPAB will be required to make changes that demonstrate actual savings in a one-year time frame, the only tool the board will realistically have will be to cut Medicare payment rates.

The IPAB is even limited in the kind of spending it can cut. Between 2013 and 2020, the health law directs the IPAB to achieve its targets through payment reductions primarily in the Part D prescription drug program, Medicare Advantage, and skilled nursing facility services.

Because the board is forced to reduce overall Medicare spending by focusing only on these relatively smaller segments, the cuts would have to be very deep to achieve overall per capita spending reductions. Seniors’ access to care inevitably will be rationed.

All the more reason that the House is well-advised to spend time this week — the second anniversary of Obamacare’s passage — helping the American people understand more about what is actually in the law by voting to repeal the IPAB rationing board.

Posted on The Washington Examiner, March 22, 2012

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