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House Committee Votes to Repeal IPAB

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, March 7, 2012

IPAB has been the subject of numerous House committee meetings as Republicans and some Democrats have challenged the board's standing. At the bill's mark up session held late Monday afternoon, objections touched on familiar themes: the power of the unelected board, rationing, and access to care.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) stated that the board, which would be appointed by the president and approved by the Senate, would put "15 unelected bureaucrats…literally in the middle of decisions between doctors and patients."

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) cautioned that IPAB would "rob Congress of its governing authority. It is an unprecedented power grab." Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), who is a physician, noted that since hospitals are exempt from cuts until 2018, IPAB would have little flexibility but to reduce physician payments, which would "result in fewer physicians participating in the Medicare program. That sounds like rationing."

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) questioned why with all the talk of cutting costs Republicans were determined to eliminate an important board that held the promise of reducing healthcare spending. "This strikes me as particularly curious and dubious," he said.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ)  said he supports IPAB's repeal because Congress shouldn't cede its governing power to regulatory boards. However, he said he supports healthcare reform and cautioned that Republicans shouldn't interpret his support of HR 452 as anything more than a simple objection to IPAB.

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