While efforts to repeal Obamacare and reform the nation’s healthcare system have stalled, there are still opportunities to enact healthcare reform that undoes the damage caused by Obamacare. Next week, Congress will take up a clean repeal bill of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB. Repealing IPAB is bipartisan and may be the only chance for the Republican Congress to repeal parts of Obamacare. The House should be commended for taking up repeal of IPAB, and this measure should be supported by all members of Congress.
IPAB was created seven years ago when Obamacare was signed into law. The basic role of IPAB is to lower costs through the implementation of blunt price controls that ration the existing Medicare system. This indiscriminate tool leaves the U.S. healthcare system with the same price controls attempted (and failed) in socialized medicine systems seen throughout the world.
In addition to being a blunt instrument that drives bad policy, IPAB also undermines the constitutionally granted authority Congress has over the power of the purse. IPAB bureaucrats are free to institute price controls they see fit without approval from Congress. As a result, this board has immense power over health outcomes and the livelihood of patients and doctors.
Given the board is problematic both politically and from a policy standpoint, it should not be surprising that there is broad consensus to repeal IPAB from numerous stakeholders.
The alternative – allowing the board to operate as planned – will result in indiscriminate cuts to Medicare that will undermine healthcare choice and access of 55 million Americans.
While there are clear arguments for repealing this panel, lawmakers should be sure to ignore poor arguments in favor of keeping IPAB. For example, some argue that IPAB repeal needs to be offset. However, this logic is flawed – under current law CBO has already assumed that IPAB will save money over the ten-year window even though the price controls have not yet been implemented. The assumption that preventing these price controls “costs” the government money is backwards thinking logic that is biased toward the status quo of Obamacare.
Ultimately, while previous stages of healthcare reform have failed Congress can still achieve repeal some of Obamacare by repealing IPAB and saving Medicare beneficiaries from indiscriminate price controls. Congress should vote next week to repeal IPAB.