Healthcare

Roe files to kill ‘death panels’

Roe files to kill 'death panels'
Rep. D. Phillip Roe (R.-Tenn.)

The leader of the Republican Study Committee’s Healthcare Task Force reintroduced legislation Jan. 23 to shut down the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the extra-legal panel created in President Barack Obama’s landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to reduce health care costs.

“I am proud to reintroduce this important legislation,” said Rep. D. Phillip Roe (R-Tenn.), who served as an Army doctor with the “Indianhead” soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea.

“As a physician with more than 30 years of experience, I find the ability of this board to intervene in the patient-doctor relationship particularly troubling,” he said.

The IPAB, also called a “death panel,” will have the power to authorize or unauthorize Medicare payments for medical procedures regardless of doctor recommendations. The board is made up of 15 members, paid more than $165,000 per year, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The bill is a break in the GOP strategy used in the last Congress.

In the last Congress, Republicans treated the PPACA as an all-or-nothing deal. This tactic was meant to husband anger at specific parts of PPACA into a movement to repeal the whole law. In this way, powerful constituencies were not able to fix the small parts of the PPACA that affected them, leaving the rest of the law intact.

The Republicans, who controlled the House, were not able to force the Democratic controlled Senate to bring a repeal bill to the floor.

The new strategy is to force Democrats in the House to vote on repeal of the especially unpopular parts of the president’s health care reform law. Then, with a passed House bill, Senate Republicans could work for a companion Senate bill targeted at changing particular parts of the PPACA, such as the IPAB.

Roe’s bill, House Resolution 351, or the “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act,” would strike the IPAB completely. “I believe my bill is a testament to the fact that members of Congress can put party politics aside, come together and do what’s right for our seniors.”

In the previous Congress, the measure passed as part of the House’s bill to repeal all of the PPACA.

The current bill has 83 co-sponsors from both parties.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), then running for vice-president on the ticket with former Massachusetts governor W. Mitt Romney, said Sept. 12 to a New Orleans gathering of members of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) he was opposed to the IPAB.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.) speaking to the AARP

Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)

The AARP was a strong supporter of the president’s health care reforms, so it was a difficult crowd for Ryan.

Ryan said one problem with the panel was that its members’ decisions were not approved by Congress, rather it was up to Congress to disapprove its decisions by super-majorities.

The House Budget Committee chairman said another problem was that there was no requirement for the 15 board members to have medical training.

“But you know President Obama’s slogan, right?” he asked the seniors.

“Forward– Forward into a future where seniors are denied the care they earned because a bureaucrat decided it wasn’t worth the money,” said Ryan, who was the 2012 Human Events Conservative of the Year.

Roe said, “I will continue to push for a full repeal of the IPAB, and I look forward to working with my colleagues—both Republicans and Democrats—to protect and preserve Medicare.”

Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-Pa.), the lead Democratic co-sponsor of the bill said, “I am proud to come together with Congressman Roe today to introduce the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act.”

Schwartz, the leader of the New Democrat Coalition Taskforce on Health, said there are other ways to save money on Medicare without threatening the quality of life of seniors.

“History has taught us that blunt instruments aimed at simply reducing costs are not the best solution,” she said. “As stewards of our financial resources, we need thoughtful policies that ensure access to quality and appropriate care for our seniors.”

The wife of a physician, the congresswoman said, “We all agree that the rate of growth in costs under Medicare should and can be contained and that the current payment system is flawed and must be replaced.”

Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), an original co-sponsor of the bill, said the IPAB has to go.

“Since its beginning, I have been troubled by the creation of this board, which would give authority to 15 unelected bureaucrats who have the power to decide what treatment is provided through Medicare,” he said.

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