Michael F. Cannon, the Cato Institute’s director of health policy studies, has recently been warning Americans about the ramifications of the U.S. Senate unleashing the “nuclear option” and what it means for the nation's healthcare industry.
Much of it is related to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which some, including Glenn Beck, have likened to "death panels."
Speaking on the Glenn Beck Program Monday, Cannon explained that IPAB "has the power to do all sorts of things that really the Constitution leaves to Congress, like enact or impose taxes..."
"This is supposed to be a 15-member board, but if no one is seated on that board -- if the president and the Senate cannot agree on whom the president will appoint... then all of IPAB's powers fall, all of those legislative powers, fall to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius," he said.
Many have wondered why Sebelius hasn't lost her job amidst the calamitous rollout of Obamacare, and Cannon suggested that it might be related to IPAB and the nuclear option.
"If (President Obama) fires Kathleen Sebelius for breaking the law, for an incompetent rollout of Obamacare, he would then have to nominate a new Secretary of Health and Human Services who would have to be confirmed by the Senate," Cannon explained. "Now, it would be easier because he could get that appointee through with just 51 votes, but the confirmation hearings would be a bloodbath..."
"This would be the first the Health and Human Services Secretary who would wield all those lawmaking powers that IPAB gives that office," he noted. "So it's much easier for him if he just lets her stay in place, and then all those powers fall to her. She never had to go through that rigorous selection process, because there was no IPAB when she was nominated."
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius answers questions about the error-plagued launch of Healthcare.gov while testifying before the Senate Finance Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill November 6, 2013 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Cannon added that because of the Senate's deployment of the nuclear option, "if President Obama and Senate Democrats want to, they could pack this board with 15 members who would be able to serve at least until 2020 - so through the first term of the next president."
"And that next president wouldn't be able to move any of these people; it's basically impossible for them to remove any of these board members," Cannon said. "So that board, packed with Democratic appointees, would then be able to run the Medicare program and essentially the whole healthcare sector without much or any oversight by Congress..."
When Beck said such an outcome is "insane," Cannon said "it gets a little more insane."
"For Congress to reject an IPAB proposal - they call them proposals but they're really laws...you need 60 votes in the Senate to block an IPAB proposal," he said.
"That's really what everybody needs to be paying attention (to) with the nuclear option, is what's coming next," Beck said in amazement. "As with always, always with this administration - don't worry about what they're doing right now. Look to the future, what is coming your way."
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