House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans, sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday announcing that they will not appoint anyone to the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
The 15-member panel is tasked with reducing the cost of Medicare under Obamacare, which is funded in part by Medicare savings. The panel is tasked with finding those savings within the system. Critics have labeled IPAB a “death panel,” fearing it will result in reduced care for senior citizens.
Boehner and McConnell said they oppose IPAB because they believe it will hurt medical care for seniors, in part by reducing payments to doctors. The speaker and minority leader are allowed to appoint three members each. The remaining members are to be appointed by the president, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
These reduced payments will force providers to stop seeing Medicare patients, the same way an increased number of doctors have stopped taking Medicaid patients, McConnell, of Kentucky, and Boehner, of Ohio, wrote. “This will lead to access problems, waiting lists and denied care for seniors.”
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President,
We write to respond to your March 29, 2013 letter requesting that we submit the names of individuals to serve on the Individual Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which was created in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148). Because the law will give IPAB’s 15 unelected, unaccountable individuals the ability to deny seniors access to innovative care, we respectfully decline to recommend appointments.
As you know, we opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because we knew it would increase health costs, impose costly burdens on job creators, and raid Medicare to pay for a massive new entitlement. In order to allow supporters to claim that the law’s Medicare cuts would be realized in the future, it tasked IPAB with reducing payments to providers or eliminating payments for certain treatments and procedures altogether. These reduced payments will force providers to stop seeing Medicare patients, the same way an increased number of doctors have stopped taking Medicaid patients. This will lead to access problems, waiting lists and denied care for seniors.
The unfortunate result is that decisions which impact America’s seniors will be made in the absence of the democratic process, without the system of checks and balances that would normally apply to important matters of public policy. Yet your recent budget called for expanding IPAB by tasking it with making even larger cuts to Medicare than those called for in the health law, even though the trustees of the Medicare program have told us that IPAB’s provider cuts would be “difficult to achieve in practice,” because of the denied care that seniors would experience.
We believe Congress should repeal IPAB, just as we believe we ought to repeal the entire health care law. In its place, we should work in a bipartisan manner to develop the long-term structural changes that are needed to strengthen and protect Medicare for today’s seniors, their children, and their grandchildren. We hope establishing this board never becomes a reality, which is why full repeal of the Affordable Care Act remains our goal.
John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican Leader