H.R. 452: Repeal of IPAB
Just some brief information about this…
There’s a piece of legislation, H.R. 452, in the House of Representatives that we should keep a close eye on during this month. Its purpose is to repeal IPAB, which is the Independent Payment Advisory Boards (also known as the “death panels”).
This legislation has 227 cosponsors in the House and has been passed by the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee by a vote of 17-5. The legislation now proceeds to the Senate.
H.R. 452 is also receiving strong support from doctors:
Last week, 24 medical organizations representing 350,000 doctors urged Congress to repeal Medicare’s new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). That’s the right prescription for improving American health care and protecting access to innovative treatments for seniors. Unless repealed, IPAB will quash medical innovation and make it even harder to adopt Medicare reforms that can improve quality and lower costs.
An important part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, IPAB was designed to address a real problem: the unsustainable growth in Medicare spending. At present, there is a $280 billion gap between the premiums and payroll taxes flowing into federal coffers and the Medicare checks being sent out. As 10,000 more seniors join the roles each day, the red ink will threaten the program’s future.
Ironically, Medicare payment cuts already required by the Affordable Care Act will make many providers “unprofitable”, according to Medicare’s own actuary. Although IPAB is prohibited by statute from “rationing” access to care, slashing reimbursements will drive more providers to limit services for Medicare recipients – creating de facto rationing.
Price controls distort health care spending and services. IPAB will only increase the distortion, because it exempts hospitals and hospices from cuts until 2019. During the interim, cuts will fall most heavily on physicians, Medicare Advantage plans, medical device makers, and pharmaceutical companies.
Thus the uneven burden of IPAB’s cost discipline will penalize some of the most innovative and potentially cost-saving technologies – like new (and expensive) drugs for Alzheimer’s, which might save money in the long run by keeping patients out of nursing homes. IPAB’s focus on year-to-year cuts also discourages Medicare from implementing quality and cost-containment programs that might save money over the long term.
One of the most important elements of IPAB is accountability:
Finally, IPAB is nearly unaccountable. Unlike other federal rulemaking bodies, the board faces no obligation to engage in public notice and comment, no judicial review of its decisions, and no appeal of its directives. Even Congress has had its hands tied by IPAB. It must review IPAB’s recommendations on a “fast track”, and they can’t be overruled without a three-fifths majority vote in the Senate. Even then, Congress’ only option is to propose its own cuts of the same size or greater.
We need to eliminate this section of O-care, if we can. And with doctors on board, if we as Conservatives will rally behind them, there’s a chance that we can succeed.
So check out the list of co-sponsors and see if your own personal “Congress critter” is listed. If not, why not drop them a note letting them know that you support repeal…and that you are paying attention!