by Art Kelly
1. Dick Gephardt, the House Democratic leader before Nancy Pelosi, has called for the repeal of Obamacare's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
Writing in the Huffington Post, Gephardt began by saying that Obamacare was "a major accomplishment" that will improve our health care. But noting that "there is rarely such as thing as perfect legislation," he said "there is room for improvement" in the new law.
Gephardt then launched an attack on IPAB that sounded very similar to what many conservatives said in 2009 and 2010. He explained that, under Obamacare, "IPAB has been made responsible for suggesting and implementing cuts to Medicare."
He wrote in part:
"IPAB will be an unelected and unaccountable group whose sole charge is to reduce Medicare spending based on an arbitrary target growth rate. It will propose cuts to Medicare that Congress can override only with supermajority votes, an unnecessarily high and unrealistic bar.
"Just as important, these cuts are likely to have devastating consequences for the seniors and disabled Americans who are Medicare's beneficiaries because, while technically forbidden from rationing care, the Board will be able to set payment rates for some treatments so low that no doctor or hospital or other healthcare professional would provide them.
"Certainly Medicare must be viable for current and future generations of seniors, but it would be wrong to achieve this goal by denying Medicare beneficiaries access to comprehensive and high quality health care.
"The damage from large and arbitrary cuts to Medicare payments will likely extend beyond Medicare itself…There is the very real risk that private sector insurance payments will follow Medicare payments' downward trend until the under-65 population also loses access to care."
2. The Associated Press reported that a glitch in Obamacare will place couples earning up to $64,000 in Medicaid, the federal-state program to provide health care for the poor.
Mike Leavitt, former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush Administration, said, "The fact that this is being discovered now tells you, what else is baked into this law? It clearly begins to reveal that the nature of the law was to put more and more people under eligibility for government insurance."
Democratic legislators defended the new law, indicating that it was intended to establish uniform criteria for Obamacare eligibility. But Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called the situation "unacceptable."
3. The Insurance & Financial Advisor website reports that the American Medical Association (AMA), whose support of Obamacare was key to its passage, may withdraw its support of it.
At its annual policy-making meeting in Chicago, the AMA admitted it had lost about 12,000 members because of its support for Obamacare.
4. Yet another poll has shown Republican opposition to Ryancare, a proposal to convert Medicare into a voucher-like system for private insurance that would eventually cover only 32% of the premiums.
Only 41% of likely GOP primary voters support Ryancare, while 43% oppose it and 16% are undecided, according to a recent survey conducted by political commentator Dick Morris.
"The survey's findings suggest that even among the base Republican voters, the Ryan plan is vulnerable to attack on the Medicare issue," Morris wrote in The Hill.