The House voted 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. But the repeal is likely to die in the Senate.
The vote was 223 to 181. While the repeal bill isn’t going anywhere – President Obama has threatened to veto it – it’s another chance for some political theater.
Seven Democrats voted with the Republicans even though some legislation that Democrats normally won’t support was attached. And 10 Republicans voted against it.
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 to doctors and hospitals 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.
Democrats complain that is an unrelated issue. And they are accusing Republican leaders of intentionally undermining Democratic support and Senate passage because they want to keep the IPAB issue alive as a political attack theme this election year.