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Another Obamacare deadline missed

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By Doug Powers  •  April 29, 2013 03:15 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

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From the ever expanding “cart before the horse” file in the Obamacare drawer we find this:

Under President Obama’s 2010 health law, the government officials in charge of keeping Medicaid afloat have until Tuesday to report whether costs for the fiscally foundering program will exceed expectations.

But they won’t have anywhere to send their report.

That’s because the Independent Payment Advisory Board – perhaps the most controversial entity created under Obama’s law – still doesn’t exist.

This 15-member board, denounced by critics as a “death panel,” is tasked under the law with determining which patients ought to receive which treatments and whether taxes ought to be raised to finance the program.

So far Obamacare is like Serling’s Flight 33 trying to find Idlewild Airport.

What’s the delay?

Why isn’t IPAB up and running?

But the board is still stalled, CQ Weekly notes, because many challenges block its implementation.

All 15 members named to the panel must be nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate. CQ Weekly notes that any Obama nomination to the board is unlikely to obtain the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

“The president couldn’t even get [Don Berwick] appointed to run the Medicare program,” says Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), adding, “And the head of Medicare has far less power than these board members will have.”

The board may hold little appeal for qualified candidates. In addition to the intense Senate scrutiny, ACA requires that IPAB members have certain skills and backgrounds, such as actuarial science experts and health professionals, and prohibits members from maintaining any other employment during their six-year board terms.

Moreover, CQ Weekly notes that the Obama administration need not rush to find and confirm candidates. Although the board must begin producing reports in 2014, it is unlikely that it will commence its cost-cutting responsibilities in the near future. The Congressional Budget Office earlier this year said Medicare would remain below the spending threshold through to 2022.

And if if the IPAB can never be formed due to political complexities (and it sounds like it never will be — perhaps by design), that contingency has already been covered:

If IPAB fails to produce a spending report when Medicare has hit its spending threshold, the ACA gives IPAB’s responsibility to the secretary of HHS.

By the time all is said and done, Max Baucus’s “train wreck” prediction will have been a best-case scenario.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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