The Wicker Report: The next step in repealing Obamacare

The following is Sen. Roger Wicker's weekly report from Congress:

As details continue to emerge about last year's Obamacare legislation, more and more Americans are coming to understand the troubling provisions of this ill-advised law.

One of the most blatant examples is the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member presidentially-appointed board charged specifically with cutting Medicare. This provision in the so-called Patient and Protection Affordability Act would ultimately limit access to health care for our seniors. IPAB is a classic illustration of how some in Washington would rather give more power to a board of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats than to empower the American people themselves. Allowing this board to make substantial changes to Medicare, without being answerable to seniors and their elected officials, is reckless.

'One-Size-Fits-All' Decision-Making Limits Access to Care

Under the health care law, IPAB is required to develop proposals targeted at reducing Medicare spending. This is the board's only responsibility, and the only cuts the board is able to make are to providers' reimbursements. Imposing harsh price controls and more provider limitations will only punish the patient. Bureaucrats should not decide what treatment is best for our seniors.

Before the passage of the health care law, seventy-four health advocacy organizations wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating, "Together, we agree that IPAB is an ill-advised provision for the future of Medicare. We favor responsible containment of rising health care costs, but we urge you to strongly oppose the inclusion of the Independent Payment Advisory Board in final health care reform legislation."

The Democrat leadership refused to listen. IPAB will not make recommendations; it will make law. To further complicate matters, the board's decisions will not be subject to challenge in the court system. In effect, the board's recommendations will be final and the American people will essentially have no way to object.

Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act

President Obama has made it clear that he has no intention of eliminating IPAB. Opposition to this board is bi-partisan. During debate on Obamacare, seventy-two House Democrats joined their Republican colleagues in sending a letter to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposing IPAB, and last September, fourteen House Democrats voted to repeal the board.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act. I am a cosponsor of this important legislation, which would repeal IPAB and ensure Washington bureaucrats do not come between patients and their doctors. Seniors deserve more health care options, not limits to needed medical care.

Working to Repeal and Replace the Health Care Law

Until we are able to pass a full repeal of the President's health care law, the best approach is to continue to repeal the most harmful provisions. A strong bi-partisan group in the Senate was successful earlier this year in repealing the burdensome 1099 tax reporting mandate which would have stifled job creation. The next important step is to eliminate IPAB.

Medicare is an important program for seniors in Mississippi, and I will continue working to put it on sound fiscal footing and repeal and replace the health care law.