Coburn, Barrasso Worry Obama May Circumvent GOP On IPAB

President Obama may have the power to circumvent the Senate and recess-appoint members to his Medicare cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) once it takes effect, two physicians turned Republican senators warned in a new report Tuesday.

As part of an all-out GOP assault on the Affordable Care Act on the week of its two-year anniversary, a 38-page report released Tuesday by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John Barrasso (R-WY) runs the gamut of Republican messaging points against the law — and expresses the fear that their party may not be able to stop Obama from implementing IPAB, which was enacted under the ACA.

“According to the CRS, there are no legal restrictions on the White House’s ability to bypass Congress and install politically-connected czars as members of this highly controversial panel,” the senators’ report reads. “‘We do not see why,’ CRS said, ‘should the normal conditions for a recess appointment occur, the President could not recess appoint a majority of the 15- member Board with individuals of his choosing as long as those appointments complied with the other limitations established in that section.’ The White House could effectively nominate political allies, bypass the Senate’s constitutional role to confirm these Presidential appointees.”

Senate Republicans had already tipped their hand by suggesting they might refuse to confirm anyone to the board. And the new warning flag from Coburn and Barrasso about a possible work-around for Obama only reaffirms clear GOP appetite for using their clout to scale back, if not neuter, IPAB’s effectiveness, in the event that they’re unable to repeal it.