With Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) still in effect, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation to repeal another federal mechanism to drive down Medicare payments to physicians – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Created by the Affordable Care Act, IPAB is a 15-member panel appointed by the president that would recommend cuts in fees to physicians if federal spending on health care reaches certain levels.
Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R-Tenn.), filed the bill. News reports in Washington say the bill's 224 cosponsors include at least 16 Democrats, and easy passage is expected. However, The Hill says it is unlikely Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring it up for debate in the Senate.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn reintroduced his bill to eliminate the IPAB. "With Medicare going broke, President Obama is betting that the Independent Payment Advisory Board will avert disaster, but unelected bureaucrats aren't the answer," he said. "Medicare beneficiaries have paid their hard-earned money into Medicare for years, and it should be these same beneficiaries, their families, and doctors who determine the health care that is right for them."
The American Medical Association sent a letter [PDF] to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to support the repeal of IPAB. It said IPAB would add to the problems the SGR causes.
TMA strongly supports repeal of IPAB because the issue of Medicare spending is too important to be left in the hands of an unaccountable board with decisions based solely on cost.
Action, March 1, 2012