Due to the strong, coordinated grassroots and advocacy outreach effort of health care stakeholders including medical organizations spearheaded by ASA, next week the House of Representatives will hold a historic first vote on repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB, an entity created by the health care reform law, is an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats appointed by the President to make sweeping cuts to Medicare payments including potentially draconian cuts to payments to physicians.
House consideration is expected to occur Wednesday, March 21 and Thursday, March 22.
ASA members are urged to contact their Member of Congress to express support for repeal of IPAB.
Current Status of Repeal Bill
The legislation to repeal IPAB, Rep. Phil Roe’s (R-TN) H.R. 452, the "Medicare Decisions Accountability Act," passed the Energy and Commerce and the Ways and Means Committees in a bipartisan manner earlier this month. The legislation currently has 234 bipartisan cosponsors – a majority of House members. ASA grassroots activists were instrumental in building support for this measure.
For full House consideration this week, H.R. 452 has been merged with H.R. 5, a bill containing medical liability reforms including a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. Moving forward, the new joint IPAB repeal/liability reform bill will be titled H.R. 5, "The Protecting Access to Healthcare Act."
Why Were the Bills Merged?
In the current budgetary environment, legislation moving through Congress is expected to be "budget neutral." That is, a pending proposal may not result in increased federal expenditures or net increased spending within the federal budget. If the proposal does increase expenditures, the spending or "costs" must be "offset" by reducing federal expenditures elsewhere in the budget.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that repeal of the IPAB provision of the reform law would cost approximately $3 billion. The cost is associated with the fact that Medicare spending cuts expected to be made by IPAB in the future would not take place if the entity is repealed. CBO thus assumes increased Medicare spending would result.
CBO calculates that the liability reforms included in H.R. 5 would reduced federal spending by over $50 billion – savings more than sufficient to "offset" the $3 billion cost of IPAB repeal.
On the Floor of the House of Representatives
The new H.R. 5 joint bill is the package for advancing IPAB repeal through the House of Representatives. However, because of the controversial nature of medical liability reform it is possible that alternative amendments will be put forth that "offset" the cost of IPAB repeal with other reduced savings.
Call to Action
In preparation for House consideration of the IPAB repeal bill and related amendments, please call your Representative and ask your Representative to support IPAB repeal efforts. Contact your Representative by typing your zipcode in the white box provided under "Call Now."