Rep. Hurt's Vote Scrutinized

Published 3:32 pm Thursday, April 5, 2012

Editor, The Herald:

In his latest activity report, Congressman Hurt tells us via e-mail that he voted to repeal a portion of the Affordable Health Care Act. Specifically, he wants to stop the implementation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This Board is charged with reigning in medical costs and Congress will have the authority to overrule any decisions of the Board. The IPAB will consist of 15 members, twelve of whom will be appointed after consulting with Congress, which means that Congress has a say in the makeup of a majority of the Board. And Congress will be able to overrule any Board decisions to reduce medical costs. After all, the Board is advisory. So, why would members of Congress want to repeal the establishment of a group that is charged with reducing health care costs? Perhaps the answer can be found in the fact that there are a number of groups who do not want to see the IPAB in operation including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the pharmaceutical industry. These same groups make large, annual campaign contributions to the Republican Party.

Mr. Hurt makes the less than truthful but incendiary statement that the IPAB will “unilaterally make decisions limiting seniors' access to care and interfere in decisions that must be kept between our seniors and their doctors”. The IPAB can be overruled by Congress so there is no “unilateral” action possible. The IPAB has nothing to do with “decisions” made by physicians regarding the health care of senior citizens but has everything to do with reducing the escalating costs of health care which line the pockets of doctors, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry. So, is Mr. Hurt doing a favor for the citizens of the 5th District or is he doing the bidding of the “fat cats” of the health care industry? It was my impression that Mr. Hurt was in favor of reducing governmental expenditures. It would appear to make a difference to Mr. Hurt when those governmental monies end up in the pockets of potential campaign donors.

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Robert J. Huskey

Cumberland County