U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced a bill, The Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act, S.3653, cosponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Tom Coburn (R-OK) to remove unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats from American seniors' personal health decisions by repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
"In true fashion of Obama-Reid-Pelosi hubris, the IPAB is the definition of a government takeover," said Senator Cornyn. "America's seniors deserve the ability to hold elected officials accountable for the decisions that affect their Medicare, but IPAB would take that away from seniors and put power in the hands of politically-appointed Washington bureaucrats. This bill to repeal IPAB is just one step towards starting over with real health care reform that empowers patients instead of beltway bureaucrats."
"The $2.6 trillion health spending law fails to address a serious challenge facing our nation - skyrocketing health care costs. The White House chose to punt tough decisions to a bunch of bureaucrats with no accountability to the American people," said Senator Hatch. "In response, we've come together with this common-sense legislation to put a stop to an unelected board with unprecedented power over the health decisions of every American senior. Making our government more responsive to the people we represent, like we are doing with this legislation, is how we rebuild the public's trust."
"The most dangerous consequence of a Washington takeover of health care is the inevitable rationing that will result in the delay and denial of care," said Senator Kyl. "The IPAB, a group of unelected Washington bureaucrats, will decide whether certain tests and treatments "cost too much' and therefore won't be covered under the new law. By repealing the IPAB, we take one step forward in protecting the sacred patient-doctor relationship and ensuring access to the highest quality medical care."
"On the hook to find $500 billion in cuts to pay for the new health care law, IPAB is yet another government body tasked with rationing to contain costs," Senator Roberts said. "Access to quality care for seniors is threatened by decisions made behind closed doors by unelected and unaccountable government officials."
"Health reform should empower families with more choices, not put government bureaucrats and rationing boards in the middle of medical decisions," said Senator Coburn. "The Independent Payment Advisory Board is a government command-and control bureaucracy that will dictate payment decisions and interfere with the best judgment of physicians and families. The task of repealing this misguided law begins here."
Senator Cornyn's bill is one of a series of bills, including legislation to repeal burdens on small businesses and job-killing taxes, to highlight specific problems with the Democrats' health care law. After taking $528 billion from the nearly bankrupt Medicare program to create a $2.6 trillion new entitlement, the Obama-Reid-Pelosi health care law created an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats to make additional cuts to the Medicare program based on arbitrary global budget targets. The IPAB would empower 15 bureaucrats to make substantial changes to Medicare--without full transparency and accountability to America's seniors and their elected officials. Additionally, Senator Cornyn and co-sponsors of the bill note several other issues with IPAB, which include:
* Product of Politics: While the designers of IPAB contend it will depoliticize the Medicare payment process, the IPAB's very charter is the product of politics. Special interest groups cut deals with Democrats to specifically exempt hospitals, 28 percent of Medicare's budget, from the IPAB's ax. Additionally, IPAB simply takes decision-making authority from elected officials and gives it to the President's political appointees.
* Shirked Responsibility: While IPAB was sold as a mechanism to address entitlement spending, the reality is that IPAB allowed Congress to punt to an unaccountable board the responsibility of fully paying for a budget busting new entitlement program. The history of the $371 billion Sustainable Growth Rate problem has shown that punting budget problems down the road only makes them worse for patients, providers, and taxpayers.
* Fallible Bureaucrats: IPAB's body of "experts" was modeled in many ways after the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). However, MedPAC doesn't always get it right, and its recommendations are carefully examined by Congress before legislative action. A news report last year noted that , "The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, created by Congress in 1997, has recommended more than $200 billion in cost cuts in the last year alone that lawmakers have ignored."
* Jeopardized Access: IPAB has raised significant concerns among a diverse group of health care provider groups. 75 provider groups sent a letter stating their opposition to IPAB stating, "The IPAB reductions would be in addition to the savings in provider payments already included in health care reform legislation, which could jeopardize both access for Medicare beneficiaries and even infrastructure for the entire health care system."