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Boehner and McConnell Still Bravely Fighting Imaginary “Death Panel”

May 9, 2013

Did you know that as a member of the House or Senate you can simply refuse to comply with any law for which you didn’t vote? Well, it’s apparently true when it comes to John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and implementation of the hated ‘Obamacare’.

The top two Republicans in Congress informed President Obama on Thursday that they will refuse to fulfill their duty under the Affordable Care Act to recommend members of a new board with the power to contain Medicare spending. (TPM)

One of the most important cost-saving aspects of the legislation is the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is charged with making cuts to Medicare provider payments  if costs exceed economic growth plus one percent annually. This is the panel so delightfully (and inaccurately) labeled a  “death panel” by Sarah Palin. (Who has herself been delightfully labeled as “proof that John McCain is a secret terrorist”.)

Here’s the deal: the IPAB is to be a 15-member panel, with the President selecting three members himself; he is also required by law to get three recommendations each from the top Democrat and Republican in each chamber. Today saw both top Republicans refuse to comply. This is not really so surprising, as it would be exceedingly bad politics for any Republican to appoint or be appointed to the dreaded “death panel.”

It remains to be seen whether the absence of GOP nominees will actually have any effect on the functioning of the body; and in any case there is a fail-safe provision in the law that should the IPAB fail to act, its role will be fulfilled by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. So this action can be viewed as nothing more than political posturing, as it will do nothing to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Still, this scenario holds two tantalizing possibilities for the GOP: 1) any unpopular provider cuts that may be made will be solely on Democrats’ heads; and 2) if and when there is a Republican in the White House, the absence of an independent board will make it easy squash the provision, thereby making Medicare more susceptible to privatization efforts. (You see, it’s actually in their interest to have Medicare spending continue to grow at an unsustainable rate. No matter their chatter about the debt and deficits — Medicare can’t be allowed to rein-in costs while remaining a single-payer system.)

Any of you who hailed Obama’s second term victory as a sign that the fight was over and that the ACA would be implemented post haste are guilty of seriously underestimating the GOP and their devout hatred of this legislation. Truth is, the law as written has many flaws and there are many aspects in need of revision. Things which can almost entirely be blamed on compromise efforts to secure Republican votes. (Remind me again how many of those they got?) At any rate, those revisions are unlikely to be addressed any time soon, and the program is almost daily fighting Republican efforts at both the Federal and State levels to stymie its launch. How else to explain the eleventy-three-hundred times the GOP has voted to repeal?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. E.A. Blair permalink
    May 10, 2013 7:46 am

    The real “death panels” are the bean counters at private-sector insurance companies who deny policyholders critical and live-saving treatments just so they can pay an extra ⅛¢ per share dividend to their stockholders and multimillion dollar bonuses for their CEOs.

  2. mikey2ct permalink
    May 9, 2013 9:07 pm

    Sandra..I watched Boehner on C-Span today. I can’t believe the people of Cincinnati keep voting him back in.

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