House repeals key Obamacare board
The Independent Payment Advisory Board is either the way to save Medicare or a means by which the government will ration health care, depending on which side of the aisle you belong.
Whatever it is, the House voted on Saturday to repeal it.
The GOP has branded the Independent Payment Advisory Board a rationing panel, and Republicans hope the symbolic 223-181 vote to repeal it will persuade seniors that they, and not the Democrats, are the best stewards of Medicare.
IPAB would have the power to force cuts to service providers like drug companies if Medicare costs rise beyond predetermined levels. A Republican Medicare plan announced this week would also limit Medicare cost increases, but rely more on market competition.
If it sounds like a debate among Washington insiders, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said he would have no trouble explaining to constituents why he voted to repeal the board.
"Do you remember death panels?" said Kingston, referring to the debunked accusation by former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that Obama's health care law would allow bureaucrats to withhold life-saving care from the elderly.
"It's not necessarily a death panel, but it is a rationing panel and rationing does lead to scarcity for some," he added. "Who's going to get the needed treatment, an 85-year-old or the 40-year-old with children?"
The health care law explicitly bars the board from rationing care, shifting costs to Medicare recipients or cutting their benefits. But critics say squeezing service providers will stifle medical innovation, achieving a similar result.
Of course, there is zero chance the senate will also vote to repeal so we await the arguments this coming week before the Supreme Court on the constitutional merits of the entire bill. Win or lose with SCOTUS - and even many conservative legal experts believe the court will uphold the individual mandate -- the legislative challenges to Obamacare will continue since it is extremely unlikely that the court will strike down the entire law.