IPAB Repeal Messaging Points
Experts say that in 2017, Medicare spending could finally trigger the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, to go into effect – posing an imminent threat to healthcare access for the nation’s 55 million Medicare beneficiaries.
Established by the Affordable Care Act as a tool to help control Medicare spending, IPAB is to be a board of presidential appointees charged with making recommendations for cutting Medicare expenditures once the program’s spending growth hits an arbitrary level.
- While spending growth did not trigger IPAB to go into effect as many anticipated in 2016, nearly all experts – including Medicare’s trustees – agree it will be triggered in 2017.
- As designed, IPAB would usurp congressional authority over the Medicare program while granting unprecedented powers with virtually no oversight.
- IPAB would likely make significant, arbitrary cuts in Medicare payments for healthcare providers.
These cuts would have a potentially devastating impact on Medicare patients – affecting access to care as well as to innovative therapies and new care approaches.
As designed, IPAB is a blunt instrument that focuses on reducing what Medicare pays for healthcare services rather than on what’s in the best interest of patients.
- It threatens to shift more healthcare costs to consumers and employers.
- Physicians are working hard to keep up with new quality improvement and reporting requirements, in exchange for Medicare incentives that IPAB could cancel out.
- The cuts could make it more difficult for physicians to see new Medicare patients, or undermine the financial viability of physicians with a large Medicare caseload.
IPAB is allowed to propose virtually unlimited changes to Medicare, which will automatically take effect unless Congress acts.
Regardless of what Congress and the administration decide regarding the Affordable Care Act, diverse healthcare stakeholders are urging Congress to repeal IPAB.
Over 650 organizations from throughout the country, representing nearly every healthcare stakeholder, have aligned to urge repeal of IPAB. They agree that, while greater efficiency of the Medicare system is necessary, IPAB is not the solution.
- Representing patients, physicians, employers, nonprofits, hospitals, insurers, veterans, and individuals with disabilities, these organizations are calling for Congress to treat this issue with urgency, repealing IPAB before it is triggered into action in 2017
Also at issue is the fact that there have been no presidential appointees named to IPAB, which would require the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to make recommendations on Medicare cuts, which would automatically go into effect unless Congress overrides them with a supermajority vote.
- This places an unprecedented level of decision-making power in the hands of one individual.
Two bills to eliminate IPAB have been introduced in the U.S. Senate, one by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and another by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). An IPAB repeal resolution has been introduced in the U.S. House by Congressmen Phil Roe (R-TN) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA), with a full repeal bill expected imminently. It is essential that we urge Democratic and Republican Senators to cosponsor the Wyden and Cornyn repeal bills.
Medicare beneficiaries need to make their voices heard, because repealing IPAB ensures seniors and their doctors maintain control over their treatment and other healthcare decisions.
There are preferable alternatives to making Medicare more quality-driven and cost-efficient, including evidence-based best practices, implementation of continuous quality improvement measures, innovations in medicines and delivery systems, and widespread use of electronic health records. These are some of the steps that can improve care to seniors while containing costs over the long term.
A national survey conducted by Morning Consult finds that the majority of registered voters – 84 percent – trust their doctors most when it comes to medical treatment decisions.
- 75 percent of respondents – and nine of every 10 seniors – agree with the statement, “The government needs to find ways to keep the promise and integrity of Medicare without cuts to the program.”
- When asked about different approaches to address Medicare’s finances, 75 percent opposed limiting access to treatments and medications.