The House on Thursday voted to repeal a controversial Medicare cost-cutting board that has drawn the ire of both parties.
Lawmakers voted 307-111 to abolish what is known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The board is tasked with coming up with Medicare cuts if spending rises above a certain threshold but has been criticized as outsourcing the work of Congress.
It has also been the target of the false attacks from ObamaCare opponents that the board enables unelected bureaucrats to helm “death panels.”
The bill now moves to the Senate, but it’s not likely the upper chamber will act before the end of the year. Even then, Republicans may not get the 60 votes needed to pass it as a stand-alone bill.
Nobody has been appointed to the panel and budget experts have estimated they don’t expect IPAB to be triggered until 2021 or 2022. Democrats say Congress has the authority to overrule any recommendations the panel could make.
This was not the first time the House has tried to get rid of the panel; they’ve been trying since 2012, but it is the first attempt with a Republican in the White House. It’s also the first vote since congressional Republicans failed to abolish IPAB as part of a larger ObamaCare repeal earlier this year.
The White House on Wednesday signaled support for the bill, noting in a statement that IPAB repeal was part of President Trump’s budget request.
The bill has bipartisan co-sponsors, but Democrats said during the bill’s committee markup that they wished Republicans were focusing on other priorities.
Democrats are also angry that Republicans are not seeking to offset the repeal, which is estimated to cost $17 billion but are requiring offsets to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Still, 76 Democrats backed abolishing the board despite the objections of leadership.
The panel’s proponents say the board is necessary to address Medicare’s runaway spending and keep the program fiscally solvent for future enrollees.