ObamaCare's IPAB Front-and-Center in 2012 Elections


By Hadley Heath

Among the many provisions of the health law that are facing constitutinoal challenges, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) has heretofore received little attention in the media.  But, upon Mitt Romney's announcemnt of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the IPAB is finally getting it's fifteen minutes of fame.

Ryan has been villified for his proposals to cut Medicare, even "starring" in a commercial throwing an elderly woman off of a cliff.  His vocal concern over government spending, particularly on unsustainable entitlement programs, has made him a leader on the Hill.  He's produced budget after budget that include major reforms to entitlements, slow their rate of growth, and ultimately balance the budget.

Importantly, none of his reform plans for Medicare would affect people over the age of 55, but this doesn't stop the political football over the senior vote.  To shoot back at claims that he would "end Medicare" or "privatize Medicare," the Romney-Ryan camp have shed new light on the President's Medicare reform plan - the IPAB.

The IPAB is facing a constitutional challenge, brought by Arizona think tank The Goldwater Institute.  The case, Coons v. Geithner, was under a stay of proceedings while the Supreme Court deliberated Florida v. HHS this summer.  Now, predictably, the federal government is again asking the District Court of Arizona to dismiss the case.

On the national stage, however, it seems IPAB will get a trial in the court of public opinion.  The media - anxious to criticize Ryan's Medicare-cutting reform proposals - cannot ignore that, via IPAB, ObamaCare will cut over $700 billion in Medicare spending over the next 10 years (Forgive me for the Washington-talk, a "cut" in the future isn't a real cut, but it is a reduction in future expected outlays).

Expect to hear the acronym "IPAB" with greater frequency in coming months, as both campaigns seek to frame the issue to their advantage.


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