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Gibbs confirms central part of Romney-Ryan attack on Obamacare’s IPAB

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Does President Obama’s health care law empower an “unelected, unaccountable” panel of bureaucrats to make decisions that will cause people to lose access to health care? “Yes,” according to the man who spoke for the president when Democrats passed the law.

Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace asked former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-person panel designed to control health care costs by cutting payments to doctors.

“Medicare patients, millions of them, will lose access to Medicare benefits,” Wallace said to Gibbs, citing a Medicare actuary report. Gibbs tried to argue that Obamacare will lower costs by encouraging health care providers to prevent illnesses rather than simply treat them, but Wallace countered that “if the providers don’t do it, then what happens is, under your plan, this unelected board, 15 bureaucrats, come in and they decide, what — you are laughing at it, but that is it.”

Gibbs accepted Wallace’s observation that IPAB will cause people to lose access to health care.  “I guess I’m laughing at your characterization of [IPAB],” he said. “They are medical professionals. They are people that we trust to make medical decisions.”

Wallace then pressed Gibbs about IPAB’s independence from congressional oversight. “Are they elected by anybody?” he asked. “They are unaccountable, unelected board that comes and will make decisions on what the providers and the hospitals have to do, and Congress has to vote it all up or all down.” Gibbs replied, “Yes.” He added that the purpose of this board is to make Medicare more efficient, provide benefits, and “to sustain the hospital trust fund.” The former Obama spokesman’s performance tends to confirm vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s criticism of the health care law. “We’re the ones who are not raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare,” Ryan told Fox News’ Brit Hume on Tuesday. “We’re the ones who are repealing President Obama’s 15-person bureaucratic board that will put price controls on Medicare that will lead to denied care for current seniors.”
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