The Campaign Spot

Sebelius, Not Up to Speed on How IPAB Works

From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Republican House Member Demonstrates Sebelius Doesn’t Know How IPAB Law Works

Rep. Andy Harris is a Republican from Maryland and a physician. He’s on the Appropriations Committee, and on Thursday he had the chance to ask some questions of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, also known as IPAB, which hopeless demagogues like you and me call “the death panel,” because it will ultimately decide which medical treatments are insufficiently cost-effective to be covered by the government.

Harris asked Sebelius if she would have the authority of the IPAB board if its members don’t get appointed. Obama has yet to nominate anyone to serve on the IPAB board. (Earlier this month, the administration testified that the nominations are coming; the Senate would confirm the members, and yes, they could (and probably will) face a filibuster.) She said if the appointments aren’t made, it doesn’t go into effect.

You’re probably sighing a great sigh of relief, but you shouldn’t. The problem is that no, that’s not what the law says.

If appointments aren’t made to the board, then she would have the authority to find the savings, and determine which treatments are not cost-effective. Video of her testimony here.

Here’s the U.S. Code for IPAB:

(5) Contingent secretarial development of proposal

If, with respect to a proposal year, the Board is required, but fails, to submit a proposal to Congress and the President by the deadline applicable under paragraph (3)(A)(i), the Secretary shall develop a detailed and specific proposal that satisfies the requirements of subparagraphs (A) and (C) (and, to the extent feasible, subparagraph (B)) of paragraph (2) and contains the information required paragraph (3)(B)). By not later than January 25 of the year, the Secretary shall transmit—

(A) such proposal to the President; and

(B) a copy of such proposal to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission for its review.

But hey, why should we expect Kathleen Sebelius to be familiar with the fine print of Obamacare?

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