House subcommittee passes repeal of Medicare payment board

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As expected, a House subcommittee voted Wednesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act's Medicare payment advisory board in a 17-5 bipartisan vote.

Two Democrats, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) joined House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Republicans in supporting the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board known as IPAB. The subcommittee's vote on Wednesday puts pressure on the Senate to take up the legislation, which it is likely to do at the end of March, according to reports.

In the early stages of the healthcare reform debate, the IPAB was termed the “death panel” and “rationing board” by Republican opponents to the ACA.

Under the ACA, the panel's job is to recommend cuts in provider reimbursement rates if Medicare costs grow faster than a targeted rate. Congress has the power to overturn the panel's recommendations with a supermajority or propose equivalent savings of its own. The panel is not authorized to ration care, reduce benefits or raise premiums.

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