I am devoting today's blog to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is receiving more and more attention. In yesterday' blog, we covered Dick Gephardt's interest in eliminating the Board, and he is not the only one. Mr. Gephardt's comments, however, are rational and largely non-political. He believes it's Congress's responsibility to handle Medicare cost control.
Now, at a press conference, "in which more than a dozen Republican health care providers blasted the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of 15 experts created by the reform law to slow the growth of Medicare," Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said that the IPAB will cause seniors to die. "The much-maligned independent Medicare board created by the Democrats’ health reform law ... might actually be worse than 'pushing grandmother over the cliff,' the co-chairman of the GOP House Doctors Caucus charged Wednesday afternoon." Once again, Republicans are using scare tactics and exaggerations.
Elimination of the IPAB has been on the Conservative Republican agenda for some time. "Republicans, led by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), have targeted IPAB for elimination, claiming the unelected IPAB members will ration care for seniors. Roe wants House Speaker John Boehner to attach the IPAB repeal bill to legislation raising the debt ceiling."
It turns out that Republicans have a few Democrats on their side when it comes to eliminating the IPAB. " ... this January, Tennessee Tea Partier Phil Roe introduced a bill to repeal it in the newly Republican House. Now, by emphasizing its importance, Obama had put IPAB back at the front of the conservative firing line." Then, "a little-known Democratic congresswoman named Allyson Schwartz signed on as a cosponsor of Roe’s bill." At first glance, this appears to be a possible step toward bi-partisanship. Alas, it's only the politics of special interests -- those of the health care industry.
"What Schwartz’s defection really represented, however, was ... a serious moment of escalation in a war that the medical industry is waging against the lynchpin of President Obama’s health care reforms. To understand why, it helps to know a little bit about Schwartz and who she represents. A former health care executive from a suburban district outside Philadelphia, she is the health policy brains of the New Democrat Coalition ..."
Read why "If an IPAB repeal bill passes the House with a couple dozen or more Democratic votes, it will set in motion a cascade of events that could end very badly for Barack Obama and his administration’s efforts to rein in long-term federal spending. What would once have seemed a partisan -- and hence dismissible -- Republican attack on a core pillar of the president’s health care reform will instead have a bipartisan glow." Friends Like These is from the July / August 2001 issue of "The Washington Monthly," and I strongly recommend it to you.