House Health Subcommittee Votes to Repeal Obama Health Law Board; Chairman Warns It Endangers All Americans, Not Just Those in Medicare

By Jennifer Popik, JD
Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.)

Earlier today, the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee voted 17-5 to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)–one of the principal mechanisms by which  the Obama health care law (ObamaCare) would limit access to life-saving medical treatment.

H.R. 452, the repeal bill, had the support of every Republican and several Democrats on the subcommittee. The House is likely to pass the bill, but it is expected to stall in the Democratically-controlled Senate. 

Most of the attention given to the IPAB has been focused on the Board’s mandate to impose Medicare cuts that a Congressional majority may not reduce. Less attention, however, had been given to its role in limiting what Americans will be permitted to use out of their own private funds for their family’s health care. 

Today, however, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.) highlighted the danger IPAB holds for all Americans:

“And, if you are young and healthy and believe that this debate doesn’t impact you – or won’t for decades – you may be interested to know that IPAB is also charged with submitting  . . . annual … recommendations regarding ways of slowing the growth in private national health care expenditures.  IPAB is the exact opposite of transparency and accountability. It is merely another example of valuing centralized decision-making by government appointed experts over judgments that should be made between a doctor and patient.”

IPAB is instructed by the Obama health care law to make recommendations to limit what Americans can spend for their health care to below the rate of medical inflation. The 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.

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.  For details and documentation, see www.nrlc.org/HealthCareRationing/ObamaHCRationingBasicDOCUMENTATION.pdf

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.  

A full repeal of the Obama health law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board is crucial so that Americans are allowed to continue spending their own funds to save their lives and those of their family.

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