House Votes to Repeal Another Piece of Obamacare

Some Democrats joined Republicans to vote for a repeal of the law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.

House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution Chairman Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., presides over a hearing on H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act On Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
National Journal
Caitlin Owens
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Caitlin Owens
June 23, 2015, 4:34 p.m.

The House eas­ily passed a re­peal of Obama­care’s In­de­pend­ent Pay­ment Ad­vis­ory Board, with a hand­ful of Demo­crats vot­ing with Re­pub­lic­ans against a part of the law aimed at check­ing the growth of Medi­care spend­ing.

The In­de­pend­ent Pay­ment Ad­vis­ory Board has nev­er been used. It con­sists of 15 mem­bers and was in­cluded in the law to con­trol the rate of Medi­care growth and to help the pro­gram come up with sav­ings. The law said the board would make sav­ings re­com­mend­a­tions if Medi­care spend­ing was pro­jec­ted to ex­ceed a cer­tain tar­get rate, but so far, spend­ing hasn’t grown fast enough to trig­ger the IPAB.

The 244-154 vote oc­curred days be­fore an ex­pec­ted Su­preme Court rul­ing on the leg­al­ity of Obama­care sub­sidies. Coupled with a vote to re­peal the law’s med­ic­al-device tax last week, the bi­par­tis­an IPAB re­peal ham­mers home the mes­sage that the Af­ford­able Care Act is broken.

“It’s good that people fi­nally know it’s there; if noth­ing else, this will help people know what was an­oth­er oner­ous ele­ment of Obama­care,” said Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Trent Franks in an in­ter­view.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion last week threatened a veto of the le­gis­la­tion, which has 20 Demo­crat­ic co­spon­sors. It re­mains un­clear wheth­er Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans would be able to muster 60 votes to over­come a Demo­crat­ic fili­buster.

“H.R. 1190 would re­peal and dis­mantle the IPAB even be­fore it has a chance to work. The bill would elim­in­ate an im­port­ant safe­guard that, un­der cur­rent law, will help re­duce the rate of Medi­care cost growth re­spons­ibly while pro­tect­ing Medi­care be­ne­fi­ciar­ies and the tra­di­tion­al pro­gram,” the Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget wrote in a state­ment.

But the veto threat didn’t de­ter Re­pub­lic­ans, as passing the le­gis­la­tion wasn’t ne­ces­sar­ily the point of bring­ing it to the floor.

“At least we’ll put on re­cord many Demo­crats who say, ‘Hey, it’s a bad idea,’ and that speaks of the law it­self be­ing prob­lem­at­ic,” Re­pub­lic­an Rep. John Flem­ing said in an in­ter­view. “We’re just go­ing to keep send­ing pieces of re­peal and full re­peals, small re­peals, whatever, and really get as many people on re­cord where they stand on this.”

Al­though only 11 Demo­crats ended up vot­ing for the re­peal, oth­ers might have done so if the bill wasn’t off­set by cuts to Obama­care’s Pre­ven­tion and Pub­lic Health Fund.

“I’m a no vote on this. I don’t like where they come up with the pay-fors,” Demo­crat­ic Rep. Gene Green said in an in­ter­view. “They take it out of a pro­gram that’s part of the Af­ford­able Care Act that’s been suc­cess­ful. And frankly, I didn’t sup­port the IPAB ori­gin­ally.”

The IPAB has been con­tro­ver­sial since its in­cep­tion, with the some Af­ford­able Care Act crit­ics la­beling it a “death pan­el.” The monik­er was used as evid­ence of Re­pub­lic­an mis­in­form­a­tion about the law, but the monik­er has stuck among some con­ser­vat­ives and a siz­able por­tion of the pub­lic con­tin­ues to be­lieve that it is an ac­cur­ate char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion.

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