House Republicans celebrated the two-year anniversary of ObamaCare by voting Thursday to repeal a key component of the law — a panel of 15 bureaucrats that would decide what service Medicare patients could receive called the Independent Panel Advisory Board (IPAB).
The measure passed on a mostly party-line vote of 223 to 181, with seven Democrats voting for the bill, and 10 Republicans voting against it.
“This unaccountable board has but one objective – to save money by restricting access to health care for Medicare beneficiaries,” said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“America’s seniors deserve better,” Camp said. “With more and more Americans becoming eligible for Medicare each day, no time is more urgent than now to secure the future of beneficiaries’ access to care. IPAB does just the opposite – it threatens seniors’ access to health care – and that is why it must be repealed.”
Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said, “This rationing board conceived by Democrats’ threatens seniors’ access to care by requiring seniors and Americans with disabilities to pay for IPAB in order to cut their Medicare benefits,” Akin said. “IPAB embodies the very thing Americans fear most about ObamaCare – unaccountable Washington bureaucrats meeting behind closed doors to make unilateral decisions that should be made by patients and their doctors,” Akin said.
Rep. Tex Poe (R-Texas) said he supports the repeal of the panel, but voted against the bill because it included medical liability language that allows the federal government to overrule state governments that have prohibited such caps.
“If this bill had been modified to ensure that states’ rights were fully protected, it would have had my full support,” Poe said. “Repealing IPAB should not come at the expense of putting constitutionally protected states’ rights in jeopardy.”
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said he supported the liability language and that “ending this European-style rationing board and cutting down on junk lawsuits are critical steps toward repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with proposals that will actually make health care more affordable.”
Democrats defended all aspects of ObamaCare and said Republicans wanted to strip all of its benefits, piece by piece.
Thursday’s vote marked the 26th time the House has voted to repeal, defund, or dismantle significant portions of the health care law. The 2013 fiscal year budget Republicans announced this week would repeal the ObamaCare law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who famously said “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” before Congress and voted in favor of the president’s health care plan, defended the law as an original intention of the founders. “What our founders put forth in our founding documents, which is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that is exactly what the Affordable Care Act helps to guarantee,” Pelosi said.
But it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide if the centerpiece of the law, the individual mandate, is actually constitutional. The court will hear those arguments next week, with a decision expected in June.
As for the Medicare panel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said
it can’t be challenged in the courts; so, he supports the House efforts to ban the board’s creation. However, it is not expected to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate or be signed into law by President Barack Obama.
“We need to reform health care, but this reform made things worse,” McConnell said. “The evidence and broken promises are all-around us. It’s time the president acknowledged it, and it’s time the two parties came together and did something about it.”