[W]e will slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services that seniors need.Obama was referring to the new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), established by the Obamacare law. Starting in 2015, the IPAB will develop specific detailed proposals to reduce Medicare spending, which must be implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services absent adoption of alternative laws with equal or deeper cuts. The IPAB famously was labeled a "death panel" by Sarah Palin.
The IPAB supposedly was central to Medicare cost cutting. So how much will IPAB reduce the growth of Medicare spending? Through 2019, the Congressional Budget Office first said $28 billion, then paired its estimate to under $15 billion.
Just last month, CBO again revised its estimates (page 2 note (d)):
CBO's projections of the rates of growth in spending per beneficiary in the March 2011 baseline are below the target rates of growth for fiscal years 2015 through 2021. As a result, CBO projects that, under current law, the IPAB mechanism will not affect Medicare spending during the 2011-2021 period.That's right: IPAB saves nothing. Zero.
As National Review's Kevin Williamson observes, touting the IPAB in the face of the Administration's own numbers must mean Obama assumes "nobody’s reading the footnotes." Not even the President.