Rep. Burgess: Health Care Law "Was Not About Health Care...It's About Control"

July 13, 2011 5:44 pm ET

In today's Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) engaged one of the witnesses in a relatively calm discussion about repealing the SGR (the Medicare payment formula for physicians) and repealing IPAB. However, towards the end, Burgess began angrily waving what appeared to be the printed version of the Affordable Care Act and claimed that the health care law was never really about health care but instead it was "a tax bill" and "about control." Burgess then raised the old specter of "death panels" by saying that administration "want[s] to control what you do...and they want to be able to tell [doctors] when to stop. Don't do anymore. That patient's had enough."

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BURGESS: Here's the deal. You're exactly right. What if someone in 1998 had the courage to this SGR thing is going to be a disaster in 10 years' time and I'm going to fix it.  Well, we have that opportunity with the IPAB now. Once the IPAB begins that cumulative effect of this specious thing of the dollar saved then there's going to be a CBO directed cost associated with its repeal. And it won't be too terribly long before that cost becomes a mountain too tall to climb just as the SGR is today. So yeah, we've got to kill one that's mature, which is the SGR. But the other one, we do need to get a handle on it before it ever gets out of the box. And I would say the time is now to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board and I'd encourage Mr. Pallone to join with us on that because once this thing gets away from you, it's—you can't even bar the door. It'll be impossible. I do think, honestly, that's what this administration is banking on. They want to get this thing up and running, and it's another method—but let's be honest. This thing was not about health care. Never was. It's a tax bill. But bottom line, it's about control. They want to control. They want to control Dr. Valadka. They want to control what you do. They want to you to do only what they tell you you can do. And they want to be able to tell you when to stop. Don't do anymore. That patient's had enough. That's where this thing is going.