House rules aim to block controversial healthcare board's Medicare cuts

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The rules package signals that Republicans might not bring up Medicare cuts recommended by the IPAB — blocking part of a politically controversial law, and resisting Medicare spending cuts.

The rules could be challenged in court, because they seek to override a law that Congress passed, but unless that happens, the House can likely abide by the rules it adopts Thursday.

House Republicans have tried unsuccessfully to repeal the IPAB, the central cost-cutting feature in the Affordable Care Act. The IPAB was designed to take Medicare payments largely out of Congress's hands, similar to the independent panel that recommends closing military bases, because lawmakers would rarely sign off on such politically risky moves.

The IPAB is a panel of 15 healthcare experts, which will recommend targeted savings if Medicare spending rises above a certain rate. The panel is not allowed to cut Medicare benefits.

The healthcare law says the House must begin taking up the IPAB's recommendations as soon as they're made, and requires House committees to pass them quickly.

Congress can only change the IPAB's recommendations if it comes up with the same level of savings elsewhere in the budget.

But the 113th Congress won't abide by those procedures, according to the rules package the House is set to approve Thursday afternoon.

The law's requirements for considering IPAB recommendations "will not apply in the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress," the rules package says.

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