270 healthcare groups back IPAB repeal

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Although the IPAB will technically only produce recommendations, those recommendations take effect automatically unless Congress votes to block them — and comes up with equivalent savings elsewhere in the budget.

"We believe that the IPAB sets a dangerous precedent for overriding the normal legislative process," the opponents wrote. "Congress is a representative body that has a duty to legislate on issues of public policy. Abdicating this responsibility to an unelected and unaccountable board removes our elected officials from the decision-making process for a program that millions of our nation’s seniors and disabled individuals rely upon."

Congressional Republicans are stepping up their criticism of the IPAB, a measure that even many Democrats would have preferred to ax from healthcare reform. GOP doctors held a press conference on the panel last week, charging that it will kill seniors, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning a hearing on the panel for next month.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended the IPAB on Friday. Many health are wonks, including former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and former White House budget director Peter Orszag, have said the IPAB or something like it is among the best ways to control skyrocketing healthcare costs.