October 29, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy
Last week, California Congressman and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) announced that the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote November 2, 2017, on a bill that would finally repeal the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The bill—HR 849, “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2017”— is a bipartisan bill co-authored by two physician Congressmen, Phil Roe, M.D., (R-TN) and our own California Congressman, Raul Ruiz, M.D., (D-Palm Springs).
IPAB was established by the Affordable Care Act and up until now has not been implemented. It was to be a 15-member federal agency charged with making recommendations to reduce per capita spending in Medicare if spending growth exceeds a specified target.
The California Medical Association (CMA) has long advocated for the board’s elimination. CMA is concerned that strict budgetary targets and other limitations imposed on the panel would ultimately threaten the ability of the nation’s seniors and disabled to obtain health care because the cuts directed by IPAB would disproportionally fall on physicians and negatively impact access to care.
CMA is also very concerned that the IPAB would put major health policy decisions will in the hands of 15 unelected and largely unaccountable individuals. If implemented, it would be an unprecedented transfer of authority away from Congress who are supposed to be the stewards of the Medicare program. Not only would IPAB severely limit congressional authority, it also would have essentially eliminated the transparency of hearings, debate and a meaningful opportunity for critical stakeholder input.
CMA is urging the California Congressional Delegation to support the bill.