For the past year, Democrats have been mostly united on health care issues, especially in the face of Republican efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s landmark law. But this week, House Republicans plan to fire their opening salvos against the Independent Payment Advisory Board — an issue on which Democrats are far from united.
Republicans plan to launch new attacks on the board in two congressional hearings. Democrats are divided over whether to support the health law at all costs or to allow Republicans an opening to repeal.
But some Democrats, as well as most Republicans and health care providers, argue the panel could arbitrarily cut services to Medicare patients and payments to providers with little congressional oversight.
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, [democrat ranking member] of the Energy and Commerce
health subcommittee, has zero interest in defending the board.
“I’ve never supported it, and I would certainly be in favor of abolishing it,” he told POLITICO. “I’m opposed to independent commissions or outside groups playing a role other than on a recommendatory basis.”
In recent weeks, several health reform supporters — such as the American Medical Association, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania — have voiced support for a Republican plan to repeal
In fact, Schwartz will be one of the GOP’s star witnesses at the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. She says IPAB puts Congress’s responsibility in the hands of an outside panel and could lead to arbitrary cuts to doctors, hospitals and other providers.
“It’s far better to achieve savings through reducing errors, duplication and waste and improving outcomes,” she said in a brief interview with POLITICO. “Simply cutting reimbursements is not the best way to go.”