The health care law explicitly forbids the board from rationing care, shifting costs to seniors or cutting their benefits, but Republicans say it will be a vehicle to deny care to seniors. Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2009 referred to “death panels” that would allow the government to withhold life-saving care from the elderly.
While Boehner and McConnell did not go that far, they said in their letter to Obama that reduced payments “will force providers to stop seeing Medicare patients” and “this will lead to access problems, waiting lists and denied care for seniors.”
Boehner, at a news conference Thursday, said this “is a board with 15 unelected, unaccountable individuals who have the authority to deny seniors access to care. The American people don’t want the federal government making decisions that doctors and patients should be making.”
The members of the board, to consist of people nominated by both parties, would be subject to Senate confirmation. Economists have predicted that the board’s services might not be needed in the near future because Medicare cost increases appear to be moderating.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, responding to reporter questions about the IPAB boycott, said “the fact that Republicans have continued to push for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act I believe demonstrates how out of touch they are with the American people, who are tired of efforts by Republicans to refight the political battles of the past.”
Asked why the House was voting again to repeal all or part of what Republicans call “Obamacare,” even though GOP leaders know the Democratic-controlled Senate will again ignore the vote, Boehner said there are about 70 new members of the House this year. “Frankly they have been asking for an opportunity to vote on it, and we are going to give it to them.”
He said he supports total repeal of the law rather than efforts to amend it as it goes into effect over the next year. “I don’t believe there is a way to fix this and make it acceptable to the American people.”