Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on the Senate Floor Thursday he and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) informed President Obama they would not recommend individuals to serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, calling it "an unaccountable board of bureaucrats."
IPAB, an agency created by Obamacare, is in charge of reducing Medicare payments to health care providers and determining what services should be available to seniors, ostensibly without eroding quality or coverage.
"Of course, we know that will lead to access problems, waiting lists and denied care for seniors, what most people would call rationing," McConnell said. "It threatens to disproportionately affect women, too. According to the Department of Labor, women make approximately 80 percent of the health care decisions for their families and are more likely to be the caregivers when a family member falls ill … We want to know that Medicare will be there to take care of them, and we want to know that those decisions will be made between patients, their families and their physician, not an unaccountable board of bureaucrats like the IPAB."
If Medicare spending grows faster than specific targets set by the law, then IPAB is empowered to reduce payments to health care providers or eliminate coverage for specific treatments and procedures entirely. Congress would need a three-fifths majority to overturn IPAB’s cost control measures.
The members of the IPAB are all appointed by the President and subject to Senate confirmation. But the law also requires the President to get recommendations for appointments from the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate and the House Speaker and Minority Leader. By refusing to make recommendations, Boehner and McConnell give Obama more freedom to appoint members he prefers.
"Your recent budget called for expanding IPAB by tasking it with making even larger cuts to Medicare than those called for in the health law," the Boehner and McConnell letter reads, "even though the trustees of the Medicare program have told us that IPAB’s provider cuts would be "difficult to achieve in practice," because of the denied care that seniors would experience. … We hope establishing this board never becomes a reality, which is why full repeal of the Affordable Care Act remains our goal."