IPAB repeal bill moves forward in House

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A bipartisan measure introduced by Rep. Phil Roe, MD, R-Tenn., to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a controversial federal panel charged with reducing health care spending, Tuesday was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee.

The Affordable Care Act called for creating the 15-member IPAB to extend Medicare solvency and reduce spending growth by using a spending target system and fast-track legislative approval process. The yet-to-be-appointed board would reduce Medicare spending only by cutting payments to physicians and other health care providers.  The panel could not make changes in benefits or in patient cost sharing.

“IPAB is a flawed policy, and the AMA has been advocating for the repeal of it since the ACA was passed,” AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD, said in a statement. “It would put significant health care payment and policy decisions in the hands of an independent body of individuals with far too little accountability. Additionally, IPAB’s arbitrary, annual cost-cutting targets would lead to short-term strategies that would threaten access to care for millions of Medicare patients across the country.”

In March, the AMA sent letters of support for the legislation, likening the IPAB to Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which finally was repealed in April. The letters called the IPAB “another arbitrary and rigid system that relies solely upon payment cuts.” The AMA also pointed to the SGR as a cautionary tale about policy decisions based on projections that require subsequent adjustments to reflect more accurate data.

“Getting rid of IPAB will allow physicians and policymakers to focus on long-term efforts to improve care quality, improve health outcomes and make Medicare more sustainable while preserving access to care for seniors now and in the future,” Dr. Wah said.

A budget offset for the cost of eliminating the IPAB has not yet been identified. The legislation could be scheduled for consideration on the House floor later in June.

Learn more about IPAB at the AMA’s Web page on advocacy

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