Health Care Reform's One-Year Anniversary and IPAB

Health Care Reform's One-Year Anniversary and IPAB

03.24.11 | By Kate Connors

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of the historic health care reform law. Providing every American access to high quality, affordable health care is something the law tries to do very well, but patient, provider and other organizations, including PhRMA have made clear their concern with a provision in the law allowing an unelected board to effectively unilaterally impose spending cuts in the Medicare program. Indeed, this board, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), is a threat to needed medical treatments and services for all Medicare beneficiaries.

We believe IPAB will result in access problems for Medicare beneficiaries and in its current form must be repealed.

While the primary goal of IPAB is cost cutting, some proponents of the board have argued that it will focus on improving quality in order to save money. However, that's unlikely because of the way the board must make its cost cutting decisions. It needs to make cuts that hit yearly targets and can only look at certain aspects and parts of the health care system, therefore IPAB will mean more of the usual line item cuts that reinforce rather than fix problems and don't yield sustainable savings.

It should be concerning for all Americans that this board will have the power to enact sweeping Medicare changes essentially without Congress' oversight. Recommendations become law of the land unless both houses of Congress can enact cuts of equal size.

We're not the only organization to express concern for this provision in the health care law. In fact, over 75 organizations nationwide, including hospital and physician groups, senior organizations and patient groups, have publicly expressed either concern or outright opposition to IPAB.

In addition, opposition to IPAB is clearly a bipartisan issue. Members of both parties have expressed support for repealing IPAB. Just because some aspects of the law will be an improvement does not mean the entire bill is perfect - IPAB shows us that it's not.

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