Congressman Rick Berg today joined the House in passing bipartisan legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an unelected board of bureaucrats empowered by President Obama's health care law to oversee Medicare payments.
The Medicare Decisions Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Berg, passed the House with by a vote of 223 to 181.
"As we approach the second anniversary of Obamacare being signed into law, it's become abundantly clear that the more we find out what's in the law, the worse it is. IPAB is one of the clearest examples of how President Obama's health care overhaul puts the government directly between patients and their doctors, and I'm pleased that the House has taken steps today to repeal IPAB," Berg stated. "By giving a panel of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats unprecedented power to make decisions regarding Medicare payments, President Obama's health care law threatens seniors' access to their doctors and quality, affordable health care. I will continue working to give North Dakotans what they have spent two years asking for by fighting to put an end to the President's burdensome and costly health care overhaul and work for real reforms that increase access, lower costs, and ensure patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats, are in charge of health care decisions."
One of the most egregious components of the President's health care law, IPAB threatens to reduce seniors' access to treatments and services in Medicare. The board consists of unaccountable Washington bureaucrats empowered to meet behind closed doors to make unilateral decisions regarding Medicare services that should be made by patients and their doctors. Further, any efforts to overrule an IPAB decision must be supported by two-thirds of the House and Senate to be successful. If Congress is unable to override any IPAB proposals, they would become law.
This unelected, unaccountable board has been met with widespread opposition, with organizations including the North Dakota Medical Association (NDMA), North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, Veterans Health Council, and more than 360 others calling for its repeal.
"The North Dakota Medical Association opposes implementation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," NDMA President A. Michael Booth, M.D., stated. "In particular, the NDMA opposes the scope and authority of the IPAB and the lack of flexibility in this mandated function. The NDMA remains committed to improved access to affordable, high-quality, cost-efficient medical care. The association supports legislation that will result in geographic equity in the Medicare payment system. North Dakota physicians will continue to advocate for keeping what's good and fixing what's broken in our health care system. NDMA's opposition to the IPAB is as strong today as it was when shared with the North Dakota congressional delegation on March 20, 2010."
The repeal of IPAB has also received strong bipartisan support. Last month, Congressman Frank Pallone, Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee at Energy and Commerce stated: "I'm opposed to an independent commission playing a legislative role other than on a recommendatory basis. It's not the job of an independent commission to make decisions on health care policy for Medicare beneficiaries."
And at a recent Ways and Means hearing, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health, Congressman Pete Stark, described IPAB as "a mindless rate-cutting machine that sets [Medicare] up for unsustainable cuts that will endanger the health of America's seniors and people with disabilities."
Berg, who has been fighting to repeal President Obama's health care law since entering Congress last year, also testified on his opposition to IPAB in a recent Ways and Means Committee hearing with Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. He serves as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which holds jurisdiction over Medicare.