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July 7th, 2012 4:21 pm
IPAB Should Be Next ObamaCare Target

Wesley J. Smith reminds us why with ObamaCare’s individual mandate safe for now, conservative litigators should focus on striking down the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the unelected, unaccountable group of “experts” charged with controlling costs under ObamaCare.

There’s not much time left:

According to the terms of the Affordable Care Act, IPAB must submit its first draft recommendations to the health and human services secretary by September 1, 2013. Its first Medicare cost-cutting goals must become law by August 15, 2014.

Why did I write “must” become law” instead of “may”? IPAB’s unique “fast track” authority divests Congress of discretion regarding the amount of money to be cut from Medicare once IPAB has submitted its “advice.” Get a load of these legislative handcuffs:

  • By January 15, 2014, IPAB must submit a proposal to Congress and the president for reaching Medicare savings targets in the coming year.
  • The majority leaders in the House and Senate must introduce bills incorporating the board’s proposal the day they receive it.
  • Congress cannot “consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report … that would repeal or otherwise change the recommendations of the board” if such changes fail to meet the board’s budgetary target.
  • By April 1, all legislative committees must complete their evaluation. Any committee that fails to meet the deadline is barred from further consideration of the bill.
  • If Congress does not pass the proposal or a substitute plan meeting the IPAB’s financial target before August 15, or if the president vetoes the proposal passed by Congress, the original Independent Payment Advisory Board recommendations automatically take effect.

Not only that, but Congress cannot consider any bill or amendment that would repeal or change this fast-track congressional consideration process without a three-fifths vote in the Senate. And to put the icing on the autocratic cake, implementation of the board’s policy is exempted from administrative or judicial review.

Unlike the rest of ObamaCare, IPAB cannot be repealed easily because its enabling statute “entrenches” it from being altered by later Congresses.  Thus, banking on a President Romney and a Republican Congress to get rid of it won’t work.

I’ve written before about the federal case in Arizona challenging IPAB.  It was on hold awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on the individual mandate.  With the mandate redefined as a tax, the IPAB litigation will proceed, perhaps with a Supreme Court hearing as early as spring 2013.

Keep an eye on this one.  It’s easy to see how an unaccountable board of bureaucrats empowered to control costs could morph into a health care rationing board.

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