Congress Votes to Repeal Independent Payment Advisory Board, Obamacare’s “Death Panels”

National   Steven Ertelt   Feb 9, 2018   |   12:01PM    Washington, DC

Lost in the debate over the legislation funding the federal government is a key victory for pro-life advocates. While most of the focus has been over passing the legislation in the first place and a filibuster from Senator Rand Paul, pro-life advocates have been pushing to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board — which has been commonly and derisively known as death panels in Obamacare.

Thankfully it appears that those controversial death panels maybe no more.

The board, composed of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, was not only directed to limit Medicare spending, but also to limit private, nongovernmental spending on health care to a growth rate below medical inflation. Little attention was given to this more sweeping danger of rationing healthcare paid for with nongovernmental dollars. IPAB’s powers went well beyond an effort to control Medicare spending. IPAB would have created drastic limits for the Department of Health and Human Services to impose on what Americans are allowed to spend out of their own funds to save their own lives and the lives of their families.

Officials with National Right to Life applauded the vote to eliminate the IPAB.

“Little attention was given to the IPAB’s sweeping powers to limit not just Medicare spending, but also healthcare paid for with nongovernmental dollars,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “National Right to Life long opposed the IPAB because of the drastic limits it could impose on Medicare and the money Americans could spend out of their own funds to save their own lives and the lives of their families.”

“National Right to Life extends special thanks to the large, bipartisan majority of Congress, led by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and others, for making repeal of the IPAB a priority,” added Darla St. Martin, National Right to Life co-executive director.

According to Jennifer Popik, J.D., National Right to Life director of federal legislation, “IPAB’s powers go well beyond some benign effort to control Medicare spending. IPAB would recommend drastic limits for the Department of Health and Human Services to impose even on what Americans are allowed to spend out of their own funds to save their own lives and the lives of their families.”

Popik talked previously about the pro-life rationale for ending the program.

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“Integral to the Obama Administration’s stated mission to drive down what Americans choose to spend for life-saving and health-preserving health care, the IPAB is charged with a key role in suppressing health care spending by limiting what treatment doctors are allowed to give their patients,” she says. “While the focus throughout this debate has been on the IPAB’s  authority to cut Medicare with very limited Congressional authority to override or alter those cuts, National Right to Life has been emphasizing a still graver concern – one at the core of rationing in ObamaCare.”

“The health care law instructs the IPAB to make recommendations to limit what all Americans are legally allowed to spend for their health care to hold it below the rate of medical inflation.  The health care law then empowers the federal Department of Health and Human Services to implement these recommendations by imposing so-called “quality” and “efficiency” measures on health care providers,” Popik continues. “What happens to doctors who violate a “quality” standard by prescribing more lifesaving medical treatment than it permits? They will be disqualified from contracting with any of the health insurance plans that individual Americans, under the Obama Health Care Law, will be mandated to purchase.  Few doctors would be able to remain in practice if subjected to that penalty.”

“This means that treatment a doctor and patient deem advisable to save that patient’s life or preserve or improve the patient’s health–but which exceeds the standard imposed by the government–will be denied even if the patient is willing and able to pay for it. Repeal of IPAB is critically important to prevent this rationing of life-saving medical treatment,” she added.

Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance has also talked about the problems with the IPAB and why it needs to be repealed.

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“ObamaCare was signed into law in 2010, and its ramifications are astronomical, with IPAB being one of the most contentious portions of the health care law. Although the reasoning behind IPAB was to keep Medicare spending down, the facts show that it will ignore the essential problems associated with Medicare and lower costs by rationing treatment to seniors,” she said. “As a result, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats will decide what treatments our elderly parents receive. No longer will we be able to make decisions in conjunction with medical professionals about our parents’ needs; these decisions will be decided by reimbursement rates set by an inauspicious board. CWA views this as a small victory on the long road to stopping this egregious health care law that tramples economic freedom and religious liberties. We will continue to shed light on the wrongheaded health care law until it is fully dismantled.”