Republicans on Capitol Hill haven’t gained any traction in their plans for a wholesale repeal of the Affordable Care Act, so they are looking to take it apart piece by piece. The current target is the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a 15-member panel created under the health law to slow the growth in Medicare spending. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health recently approved a bill to repeal the panel and other House committees are expected to follow suit.
But while the IPAB has been derided by physicians as unelected and unaccountable, President Obama has heralded it as a major cost control tool. Despite the bill’s success so far in the House, it is not expected pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Meanwhile, controversy continues over the inclusion of contraceptives as a free preventive service under the Affordable Care Act. Many lawmakers aren’t satisfied with the Obama administration’s plan to overcome the objections of religious employers by requiring their health plans to provide the contraception directly. Last week, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) offered legislation that would have allowed any employer to deny coverage for health services based on their religious or moral beliefs. The amendment was defeated in a 51 to 48 vote.
Check out this week’s podcast for all the details on these health care controversies and the latest on the deliberations of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.