A rising chorus of repeal-mongers, outraged at the Obama administration's federal health care power grab, took over Washington this week. Nope, it's not the tea party. It's Democrats Against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yes, Democrats.
What's IPAB? A Beltway acronym for subverting the deliberative process.
The 15-member panel of government-appointed bureaucrats was slipped into Section 3403 of the Obamacare law against the objection of more than 100 House members on both sides of the aisle. IPAB's experts would wield unprecedented authority over Medicare spending -- and in time, over an expanding jurisdiction of private health care payment rates -- behind closed doors.
Freed from the normal administrative rules process -- public notice, public comment, public review -- that governs every other federal commission in existence.
Without the possibility of judicial review.
And liberated from congressional oversight except through an onerous accountability procedure.
Last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touted IPAB as a "key part" of Obamacare. The president himself crusaded for giving the board even more regulatory "tools" to usurp congressional power over health care allocations. And he has the audacity to blame Republicans for creating a "banana republic"? Hmph.
The conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute has filed suit in federal court to stop IPAB. "No possible reading of the Constitution supports the idea of an unelected, standalone federal board that's untouchable by both Congress and the courts," says the think tank's litigation director, Clint Bolick. But it's the growing opposition from members of the administration's own party that may yet doom these health care czars on steroids.
But look who's not biting: According to Politico, "New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, has zero interest in defending the board. 'I've never supported it, and I would certainly be in favor of abolishing it.'" If that's not clear enough, Pallone added that he's "opposed to independent commissions or outside groups playing a role other than on a recommendatory basis." Period.