During a pair of House hearings on President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, Republicans renewed their criticism of the federal health reform law and its approach to reducing Medicare spending, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/28).
Questioning on IPAB
GOP lawmakers also questioned HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the law's Independent Payment Advisory Board and several other aspects of the overhaul (Belogolova, National Journal, 2/28).
House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) launched his panel's hearing by calling the 15-member IPAB a group of "unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats" that will be "empowered to cut Medicare in ways that will result in restricted access and denied care for current seniors" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/28).
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Republicans questioned the need for the Medicare cost-control panel, which they reiterated could reduce Congress' authority over Medicare spending. Sebelius, who testified before the panel, noted that IPAB's cost-cutting recommendations could be delayed until 2018 because Medicare spending is not increasing as quickly as expected.
However, a delay to the recommendations is not likely to curtail the GOP's efforts to repeal IPAB, according to National Journal. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Wally Herger (R-Calif.) said he will convene a hearing next week to allow the subcommittee "to fully understand the impact of this ill-conceived rationing board will have on Medicare beneficiaries and their health care providers."
Sebelius Defends New Rules on Contraception Coverage
During the Ways and Means hearing, Sebelius took the opportunity to defend the administration's new contraception coverage rules, noting, "The issue of religious liberty is one that the President and I take very seriously" (National Journal, 2/28).