On Obamacare’s second anniversary, the House of Representatives voted to abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a cost control program that is estimated to save $3 billion from 2018 to 2022. Though the vote wasn’t entirely partisan—seven Democrats voted for it, and 10 Republicans voted against it—the vote was consistent with the House’s recent strict party alignment. Senate Republicans are now pushing for a repeal of the IPAB, though their likelihood of success is much smaller.
Supporters of the repeal worry that the IPAB—better known as Obama’s “death panels,” at least in recent debates—gives too much power to an organization that is not accountable to any constituency. (As it is currently designed, the 15-member independent advisory board’s spending cut recommendations would take effect automatically unless Congress voted to block them.)
Yet it seems somewhat ironic that this cut is coming from Republicans, who have pushed for reduced federal spending in recent months. Are Republicans being hypocritical in voting to repeal an act that would cut health care spending—one of their major desires? Or does this vote merely show that Republicans truly think this board is given too much power—does it represent their true interests?
Moreover, I question why our legislators are even taking up these issues at this moment, when the Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of Obamacare, making many of its programs up in the air, at least for the time being? And what is the political feasibility of repealing the IPAB, even if Supreme Court rules that Obamacare’s mandate is constitutional? Even if the Senate were to approve this abolishment, this Congress has little potential to override a veto, which is almost inevitable if Obama remains in office. Therefore, isn’t the House’s vote simply a waste of political capital? Shouldn’t they be focusing on policies that might actually be implemented?
Am I being too cautionary about what Congress should and should not do? Are House Republicans actually being strategic in passing this bill? What does everyone else think?