House voting to abolish Medicare payment board

docent/Shutterstock.com

The House was preparing to abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board on Thursday – a board that Republicans once derided as a “death panel” and that even some Democrats don’t like because it could bigfoot Congress. While the repeal bill isn’t going anywhere – President Obama has threatened to veto it – it’s another chance for some political theater.

Republicans have torpedoed any chance for a bipartisan vote on this, apparently on purpose, by attaching some legislation that Democrats won’t support.

The IPAB was created in the 2010 health care overhaul law as a last line of defense against out-of-control Medicare costs. The 15-member board of experts from across the health-care field has the power to step in and cut Medicare payments if they seem to be spiraling too high.

It would take some power out of the hands of Congress, so some Democrats have joined Republicans in opposing it. The Congressional Budget Office has said abolishing IPAB would raise the deficit by $3.1 billion over 10 years, so Republicans have tacked on medical malpractice reform legislation to pay for it.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the medical-malpractice legislation would save the federal government $57 billion, meaning it would easily cover the cost of the IPAB repeal. After the first $3 billion is used to cover IPAB, the next $54 billion would go directly toward the deficit.

(Image via docent/Shutterstock.com)

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