Letter to Capitol Hill Says Independent Payment Advisory Board would “severely limit Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care”
WASHINGTON – Over 500 organizations representing patients, individuals with disabilities, the elderly, veterans, healthcare providers and employers sent a letter to Congress today urging lawmakers to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the 15-member panel of political appointees that will have unprecedented powers to affect Medicare spending.
In the letter, the organizations assert that IPAB will have a harmful impact on Medicare beneficiaries’ access to quality healthcare and also sets a dangerous precedent by essentially transferring legislative responsibilities to an unelected board that is not subject to judicial review. Under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, IPAB is charged with recommending Medicare spending reductions if program expenditures exceed an arbitrary level set in statute. Those recommendations could only be overturned by a supermajority of both houses of Congress.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact IPAB will have on patient access to quality healthcare,” the letter states. “The bulk of any recommended spending reductions will almost certainly come in the form of payment cuts to Medicare providers. This will affect patient access to care and innovative therapies.”
The letter cites an American Medical Association survey showing that a significant number of physicians are already restricting the number of Medicare patients they see in their practices because of low reimbursement rates. Also mentioned in the letter is a Congressional Budget Office finding that IPAB will likely focus its recommendations on Medicare payment rates in order to achieve short-term scoreable savings.
The signing organizations also warn against transferring authority over Medicare policy to a politically-appointed board. “Abdicating this responsibility to an unelected and unaccountable board removes our elected officials from the decision-making process for a program that millions of our nation’s seniors and disabled individuals rely upon, endangering the important dialogue that takes place between elected officials and their constituents,” they wrote.
Healthcare Leadership Council president Mary R. Grealy said, “With the Medicare beneficiary population swelling as baby boomers enter retirement and chronic disease rates rising alarmingly, the objective shouldn’t be to arbitrarily cut Medicare spending but rather to achieve better care and improved health outcomes. IPAB is not a mechanism geared to do that.”
Healthcare Leadership Council: Kelly Fernandez – 202-452-8700 firstname.lastname@example.org
AZBio: Joan Koerber-Walker – 480-332-9636 email@example.com