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Roe Asks Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Co-Chairs to Repeal the IPAB

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Washington, September 1, 2011 | comments

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (TN-01) sent the following letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction co-chairs Congressman Hensarling and Senator Murray asking that they consider repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB):


As you begin negotiating the deficit reduction package required by the Budget Control Act, I would respectfully ask that the committee consider repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). While not solving the immediate debt crisis, such action would defuse the potential of the IPAB evolving into the next Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR).

When Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), it surrendered to 15 unelected, presidentially-appointed bureaucrats the power to set the future direction of Medicare. Decisions that have a significant impact on quality of life—and in the most extreme cases, on life and death—should be made by patients and their doctors. The IPAB would step into the middle of this relationship, and threaten seniors’ access to essential medical care.

The IPAB also has tremendous fiscal implications. As with SGR, the IPAB is intended to restrain the skyrocketing cost of health care. Congress, however, has shown little appetite to enforce the cuts required by SGR. If IPAB-mandated cuts make it economically impossible for physicians to treat Medicare beneficiaries, Congress will likely take similar action—at a significant cost. The Congressional Budget Office projects that maintaining the 2011 physician payment rates over the next 10 years would cost nearly $300 billion. We cannot afford the expense of plugging a second hole.

There is a long record of bipartisan opposition to the IPAB that even predates enactment of PPACA. More than 50 House Democrats, for example, signed a bipartisan letter sent to then-Speaker Pelosi in December 2009 expressing “strong opposition to any proposal or legislation that would place authority for Medicare payment policy in an unelected, executive branch commission or board.” Despite these concerns—and those of a broad cross-section of advocacy organizations—IPAB was ultimately included in the law.

It should be up to patients and their physicians—along with their elected representatives in the Congress—to determine what care is to be provided and how it will be paid for. I urge you to consider IPAB repeal as part of the final deficit reduction package.


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