Congress Repeals Part of Affordable Care Act

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Congress erased a Medicare cost-cutting tool called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This controversial part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was repealed by Congress at 5:30 a.m. Feb. 9.

The IPAB board would have consisted of 15 top health professionals that would serve six-year terms — on civil service salaries — with the goal of reducing medical costs.

Many supporters of the Affordable Care Act have said that the law would not actually restrict any medical spending. Many Democrats are in favor of erasing part of former President Barack Obama’s health care law because of its larger spending framework.

Several health care professionals shared their opinions about the decision to repeal the IPAB.

Joe Antos, a health care scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said, “The big problem with repealing the IPAB is this is a Congress, and it’s bipartisan, that has no interest in fiscal responsibility. It was only put in to produce savings, but there was never any intention from the very beginning to actually allow it to operate. It was a lot like many of these automatic savers in the Medicare program; they were never really meant to work. This was never going to get off the ground and so the point of this was really a fraud to begin with, which was to claim this was a way of paying for the ACA.”

Rodney Whitlock, former health care policy director for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), said, “I was always offended by it. An august body makes decisions that the legislature is incapable of doing, but it was written in such a manner as to guarantee a certain outcome: provider cuts. Thus providers banded together to kill it from the start. They made it so radioactive it was never launched. Today is finally reading the last rites.”

When it comes to getting rid of the IPAB forever, Democrats agreed to work with the Republicans. Lawmakers were not willing to accept recommendations because of the objections from the healthcare industry. This is the reason that the IPAB was never fully implemented since its proposal as a part of the ACA.

Tim Jost, a health law professor at Washington and Lee University, said, “It was also, however, wholly unrealistic. The idea that 15 of the top healthcare experts in the country would serve on such a panel for six-year terms on civil service salaries without outside compensation was ridiculous, as was the thought that Congress would simply go along with their recommendations.”

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