The Senate's decision to go "nuclear" breathes new life into a dormant but extremely controversial part of Obamacare.
The Senate's rules change will likely make it much easier for President Obama to fill the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB — a 15-member panel tasked with slowing the growth in Medicare spending. The IPAB is a polarizing piece of the Affordable Care Act: It's been a feature of GOP campaign ads, and the House has voted to repeal it.
The IPAB is technically supposed to submit its first proposed cuts in January, but Obama hasn't even nominated anyone to the board yet. Nominees have to be confirmed by the Senate, which until today required 60 votes — and Republicans were highly unlikely to help confirm anyone to the board.
But now that the Senate has moved to a 51-vote threshold for executive appointments, Obama will likely be able to fill the board and move ahead with one of the most significant cost-control measures in his signature health care law — if he wants to.
A GOP Senate aide confirmed that the rules change will apply to IPAB nominees; spokespeople for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the White House did not respond to questions about the rules change and the health care board.