With tax reform in the rearview mirror, policymakers and voters are sizing up the next big policy battles. Chief among voter concerns is the unraveling healthcare system, which regularly sees double-digit premium increases and questionable results for taxpayer funding. Americans understand that failing to reform the health-care system via the rollback of Obamacare will continue to strain the system and result in lower-quality care at a high cost.
Congress may not have had the courage to fully repeal and replace Obamacare, but it’s no secret that Republicans and Trump voters still don’t want to give up. A new survey commissioned by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance finds that 60 percent of Republican voters believe Obamacare’s individual mandate and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) are fatally flawed policies, and that rescinding them is an important step toward mitigating the impact of the full law. Furthermore, 73 percent of Republicans and three-quarters of Trump voters believe Obamacare needs to go, and repealing any part of the law is a good start.
Fortunately, recent developments on Capitol Hill have made it clear that Republican leaders are listening to voters and are open to rolling back some of the worst parts of Obamacare in a piecemeal process. In December, Congress repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate as part of their tax overhaul.
That’s a good start, but it’s not enough.
Republican leaders should also repeal IPAB as part of an omnibus bill that would fund the government and address issues currently being kicked down the road with continuing resolutions.
IPAB, also referred to as a “Death Panel,” is an unelected group of bureaucrats who — once an arbitrary spending level is reached — are given unchecked authority to make cuts to Medicare without Congressional oversight. Taken to its logical conclusion, IPAB would lead to rationing of care.
Congress would be right to include IPAB repeal in any must-pass legislative package. Repealing IPAB makes good policy sense and good political sense. TPA’s survey found that 65 percent of Republican voters and 54 percent of seniors believe IPAB is one of the worst parts of Obamacare due to the Board’s broad powers in ratcheting back Medicare spending.
These access rollbacks, which can easily be approved without the go-ahead from lawmakers, have dire policy consequences. IPAB could restrict Medicare patient’s access to their chosen doctors and to lifesaving drugs. Medicare currently covers most drugs, but IPAB could implement a closed formulary that would limit patient access to drugs by letting the government decide what types of medications Medicare would cover. This would be especially harmful for beneficiaries who rely on innovative new treatments, and could lead to rationing across the system. Worst of all, 15 unelected bureaucrats have the power to decide on and enact these harmful changes—changes that could fundamentally reshape our healthcare system—without any Congressional oversight.
The 115th Congress faced a great deal of difficulty in doing away with Obamacare, with even “skinny repeal” measures going by the wayside. But the continued effort is well-worth it; repealing the individual mandate and freeing Americans from hefty taxes is an important step toward restoring choice in the American healthcare market. And, reigning in spending for failed healthcare programs will allow lawmakers to put hard-earned money back in the pockets of the American people.
The Republican majority in Congress should listen to their constituents and continue to chip away at Obamacare in a piecemeal effort. Repealing IPAB along with the individual mandate would eliminate some of Obamacare’s most harmful provisions and show voters they are capable of taking positive steps toward fixing our broken healthcare system.
Republican lawmakers need to listen to their constituents and repeal IPAB. Heading into an election year where very little typically gets done, ignoring this poll could prove to be a big mistake.
David Williams is the President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.