OPINION: Next Step in Dismantling Obamacare: IPAB
Taxes are lower, ISIS is on the run, and the regulatory agencies are in a ceasefire with the US economy. But 2018 is no time for Republicans to rest on their laurels -- not when Obamacare, the crown jewel of eight years of a far left-wing president, remains intact.
Thankfully, the tax bill eliminated the "individual mandate," a fine on private citizens for failure to purchase health insurance, the "30 pieces of silver" the health insurance companies received for helping Obama pass his terrible bill.
But with the individual mandate felled, it's time to fight the next battle: eliminating the law's health care rationing board that gives 15 pointy-heads the legal authority to decide whether your surgery is worth paying for.
The board, called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), is granted breathtaking powers in Obamacare, including egregiously unconstitutional provisions designed to make the board impossible to repeal.
The law literally declares it illegal for the House of Representatives to debate a bill repealing IPAB.
On the one hand, this is laughably, flamboyantly unconstitutional.
First, one Congress does not have the authority to limit the authority of a future Congress -- the Constitution governs its limits, not a law it enacts. It's like if Trump's new tax bill said that from now on, the capital gains rate will be set by Grover Norquist, and no future Congress may ever raise taxes again.
Second, congressional debate is specifically protected with the "speech and debate" clause, a little known provision that makes it legally impossible for a member of congress to violate the law by speaking on the House or Senate floor.
On the other hand, this "tagged you, no tagbacks!" doctrine is, frankly, frightening in that Democrats envisioned their rationing board would be so controversial they needed to invent a way to wall it off from We the People.
What I want to know is what, exactly, they expected IPAB to be doing that necessitated this unprecedented power?
The board, also known as Obamacare's "death panel," is, unsurprisingly, extremely unpopular. Somewhat amazingly, it has survived in the years since the law was enacted, while other, especially unpopular parts have been removed (like the individual mandate).
Part of the explanation is the panel's delayed start. Apparently hoping the American people would act like a frog in a slowly boiled pot, Obamacare delayed the board's initial rationing decisions for several years in hopes that the larger backlash to the law would have subsided by the time it got to work.
Well, the joke is on them; I don't think a President Trump, GOP House and GOP Senate were part of those plans! But with that power comes responsibility. Republicans cannot allow the next election to pass without doing as much as possible to dismantle the crippling Obama legacy.
In this instance, all that is needed is will, since numerous Democrats have expressed their willingness to repeal IPAB. Democrats have even introduced their own bills to repeal IPAB! It's safe to say that repeal would be easily accomplished if put to a congressional vote.
Repealing IPAB is the single most important step that President Trump and the congressional Republicans can take in their battle to dismantle Obamacare. As they consider their agenda for the year ahead, IPAB should be among their top priorities.
This is America. Rationing is for commies. Repeal IPAB now!
Dean Chambers is an independent journalist and blogger who has written news and commentary articles on a wide variety of subjects.