House Republicans aim to block board's Medicare authority

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)

Republican House leaders say they will continue to fight a part of the healthcare reform law that could lead to Medicare spending reductions without direct input from Congress. The House was scheduled to vote on rules for the 113th Congress Thursday. Part of them would include a GOP-promoted package that would disallow powers of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). 

 

With the expected vote, Republicans could ignore Medicare spending cuts recommended by the IPAB. A panel of 15 healthcare experts, IPAB would take many Medicare payment decisions out of Congress' hands. It is seen roughly as a replacement for the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which can only make recommendations to, with no binding authority over, Congress. IPAB is the central cost-cutting feature of the Affordable Care Act and is empowered to suggest savings if spending rises above a benchmark. It can't cut benefits.

 

The health reform law requires the House to review IPAB recommendations immediately and House committees to pass them expediently. Congress can change IPAB recommendations if similar savings can be created in the budgeting process.

 

The rules could be challenged because they seek to override a law. If that doesn't occur, the House could follow any rules it adopts this week.

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