When Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D.,Pa.) holds a roundtable in Philadelphia Thursday with Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to tout the federal health-care overhaul known by opponents as “Obamacare,” one topic is not likely to come up: a powerful board empowered to cut payments to Medicare providers in order to control costs.
That is because Schwartz, an expert on health policy who helped draft parts of the law, has become an important ally of House Republicans who are pushing to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
The 15-member board can begin slashing payments if Medicare costs rise. Opponents argue that this power will result in a de-facto rationing of health care to seniors.
Schwartz, a cosponsor of a bill abolishing IPAB, was the star witness last year in a House committee hearing on repeal. In a letter circulated to all her House colleagues in April 2011, Schwartz wrote that she “cannot condone the implementation of a flawed policy that will risk beneficiary access to care.”
“Rep. Schwartz knows IPAB is a mistake, and she’s not the only one,” Allie Brandenburger, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz, while in Pennsylvania campaigning for President Obama’s failed promises, should explain why she supports Obamacare, which will have devastating effects on patient care and put more power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.”