Sebelius joins rationing fray

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Sebelius's barbs come as Republicans have been shifting their rhetoric away from the accusation that Democrats are being derelict with regards to Medicare's solvency. On Wednesday, a caucus of Republican doctors instead accused Democrats of seeking to ration Medicare benefits.

The healthcare law, Rep. Phil GingreyPhil GingreyBeating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins K Street Former Rep. Gingrey lands on K Street MORE (R-Ga.) charged at Wednesday's news conference, has "already ended Medicare as we know it" — a play on the line that Democrats have used to attack the Republican proposal. 

The IPAB is a favorite target. A half dozen Democrats have signed onto legislation to repeal it, and the Energy and Commerce panel has scheduled a July 13 hearing on its "controversial consequences for Medicare and Seniors."

The dichotomy suggested by Sebelius's column — Democrats want to curb the growth of healthcare costs while Republicans would shift the burden onto an aging population — repeats almost word for word what Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusChina moves to lift ban on US beef Overnight Healthcare: Zika fight stalls government funding talks | Census finds big drop in uninsured | Mental health bill faces wait Glover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft MORE (D-Mont.) said at a health entitlement hearing Thursday.

"Health reform represents the first of these two choices [because it] reins in costs and makes our healthcare system more efficient," Baucus said in his opening statement. "The House budget, on the other hand, makes the second choice. That budget ignores rising healthcare costs. Instead, it places the burden squarely onto the shoulders of seniors."

Republicans, predictably, said the opposite.

The IPAB, former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin testified, could end up limiting payments for medical services.

"So it could decide that patients should have coverage for one particular treatment option but not another, or must pay much more for one of the treatment options," Holtz-Eakin testified. "This is especially troubling because it may choose to focus on expensive new treatments."

"Unfortunately," ranking member Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHow the White House got rolled on the Saudi-9/11 bill Overnight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform Overnight Healthcare: Watchdog says ObamaCare program made illegal payments MORE (R-Utah) said at the hearing, "the president’s solution is to grant power to a 15-member panel of bureaucrats that will decide how to spend taxpayer dollars and to determine what care our senior citizens will receive."