Congress Should Repeal IPAB

Congress should approve HR 452.

AstraZeneca is urging Congress to support legislation sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe that would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) established by the health reform law.

IPAB would have the authority to cut Medicare spending if spending exceeds specified targets. As created, implementation of IPAB’s recommendations is exempt from both judicial and administrative review and is fast-tracked through Congress.

IPAB’s virtually unchecked authority to cut Medicare spending represents a clear threat to patient care.

Without real congressional oversight, the board has the power to reduce Medicare spending at the expense of patients’ health and future breakthroughs in treatment.

Why?

A federal entity focused solely on cost-cutting measures is more likely to view innovative new therapies as problems instead of solutions.

That, of course, is not the case, and it is a shortsighted approach to cost control. New medicines can be part of the solution to our health care problems, as research shows that medicines can hold down costs in other health care areas.

IPAB sets a bad precedent by allowing for a board’s decisions to essentially go into effect without oversight. The manner in which IPAB was designed makes it nearly impossible for Congress to override IPAB recommendations.  Even more disconcerting is the fact that the implementation of IPAB decisions cannot be challenged in court, therefore Americans will have no way to appeal the board’s decisions.

Simply put, IPAB wrongly puts control over Medicare in the hands of unelected, unaccountable federal officials.

Repealing IPAB would ensure that seniors and Congress continue to have control over Medicare. For that reason, Congress should approve HR 452.

Update: The House Ways and Means Committee just passed by voice vote legislation to repeal IPAB. Earlier this week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the IPAB repeal bill by voice vote as well. Action by the full House of Representatives is expected the week of March 19.