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GOP Leaders Revive 'Death Panel' Debate

Image: GOP Leaders Revive 'Death Panel' Debate

Friday, 10 May 2013 11:40 AM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

Republican leaders are reviving the debate over Obamacare's "death panel" by refusing to recommend appointees with the goal of impeding its implementation.

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) – labeled a "death panel" by Republicans in the 2010 elections — is a 15-member panel tasked with cutting cost overruns in Medicare.

The President selects three members himself to the board and is required by law to seek three recommendations each from the top Republican and Democrat in the House and Senate. All must be confirmed by the Senate.

"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," House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in a letter to the White House.

The Republican leaders said that the board will lead doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients — in the same way that many doctors have stopped taking those on Medicaid — because the board is tasked with reducing or eliminating payments for certain treatments and procedures.

"We believe Congress should repeal IPAB, just as we believe we ought to repeal the entire healthcare law," Boehner and McConnell added. "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."

The House will vote next week on repealing Obamacare in its entirety while President Obama makes a public defense of his signature healthcare law on Friday using Mother’s Day as a backdrop.

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