L.A. Times columnist Michael Hiltzik is an outspoken supporter of Obamacare. But in his Jan. 9 column, he agrees with PLF and our allies at the Goldwater Institute that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (the group of unaccountable “Platonic Guardians” that Obamacare puts in charge of the Medicare program) is just beyond the bounds of the Constitution:
Congress is given a very short time frame to rule on IPAB’s recommendations, once they’re filed. If Congress doesn’t act, the proposals go into effect automatically. And Congress can’t modify or reject them unless its modifications produce the same or greater savings. The IPAB provision in the ACA bristles with requirements for supermajority votes by Congress; repealing the provision itself requires Congress to act within a four-month window in 2017. IPAB decisions aren’t subject to court review. In those respects, IPAB has too much power…. The deliberate exclusion of Congress from oversight of any governmental operation is a worrisome development, rooted in the lawmakers’ recent inability, or refusal, to get anything done. Yet simply cutting them out of the loop only makes them less functional in the long term, for the same reason that an unused muscle becomes atrophied. No one should be cheered at the spectacle of lawmakers depriving themselves of authority because they’re afraid that “politicians” can’t be trusted to act wisely. Nothing good comes of this approach.
While we would disagree with Hiltzik’s overall support for the law, one thing we all should be able to agree on is that IPAB contradicts our democratic principles. Fixing America’s health care market may be a very hard job, but it’s not made any easier by delegating excessive power to bureaucrats who are freed of any checks and balances. That’s why we’ve urged the Supreme Court to take the Coons case and strike down the unconstitutional IPAB. You can learn more about this outrageous law by reading our brief here.