GOP lawmakers refuse to participate in ‘death panel’ appointments

Republican leaders refuse to appoint members to Obama’s notorious Independent Payment Advisory Board, what former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin famously dubbed “the death panel.”

Republican leaders Senator Mitch McConnell and John Boehner
McConnel and Boehner. Photo credit
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sent a joint letter to President Obama voicing their opposition to both the Affordable Care Act, which implements the panel, as well as the panel itself, according to Business Insider.

The Affordable Care Act provides that the President is to select three members of the 15-member panel and then obtains three recommendations each from the top Democrat and Republican in each chamber. The joint letter sent to the president would leave the panel short six members.

The letter states in pertinent part:

In order to allow supporters to claim that the law’s Medicare cuts would be realized in the future, it tasked IPAB with reducing payments to providers or eliminating payments for certain treatments and procedures altogether.  These reduced payments will force providers to stop seeing Medicare patients, the same way an increased number of doctors have stopped taking Medicaid patients.  This will lead to access problems, waiting lists and denied care for seniors.

The unfortunate result is that decisions which impact America’s seniors will be made in the absence of the democratic process, without the system of checks and balances that would normally apply to important matters of public policy.  Yet your recent budget called for expanding IPAB by tasking it with making even larger cuts to Medicare than those called for in the health law, even though the trustees of the Medicare program have told us that IPAB’s provider cuts would be “difficult to achieve in practice,” because of the denied care that seniors would experience.

This move is not likely to have any real impact on Obamacare, and is more of a symbolic gesture. “There’s actually no work for the IPAB to do this year,” Allison Hoffman, an assistant professor of law at UCLA told Business Insider.

Nonetheless, this move will likely play well to constituents back home as the Affordable Care Act becomes increasingly unpopular. According to an April Kaiser Health tracking poll, Obamacare’s support dropped with a thud to 35 percent.


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