Healthcare Business News

GOP senators: Cost-cutting panel could be appointed without lawmakers' consent

By Rich Daly
Posted: March 20, 2012 - 12:00 pm ET

Two Republican health policy leaders warned that the president could appoint the members of a controversial cost-control panel without congressional consent. The warning came as part of a regular report the two Senate Republicans issued Tuesday to predict coming problems with the 2010 federal healthcare law.

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Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming, both physicians, cited a Congressional Research Service report that concluded the president is not barred by law from appointing a majority of members of the Independent Payment Advisory Board if none are confirmed by the Senate.

Some provider advocates, who adamantly oppose the panel because of the assumption that the cuts it is charged with implementing would come primarily from Medicare reimbursements, have said they expect the confirmation process to stop the panel, barring its repeal. But the law would allow the panel to start in 2015—regardless of the outcome of the confirmation process—the Republican senators said.

“There are virtually no checks on the panel, since its members are unelected, and its recommendations cannot be challenged in court,” they wrote.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a bill to repeal the panel.

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