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Lawmakers try again to stop Medicare IPAB

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 4, 2013

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Bipartisan legislation to eliminate the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board was reintroduced in the House on Jan. 23.

Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R, Tenn.), had sponsored the stand-alone IPAB repeal bill with 230 Democrats and Republicans during the past Congress. The House approved the measure along with a medical liability reform bill in April 2012, but it was not taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate and faced a veto threat from the White House.

“As a physician with more than 30 years of experience, I find the ability of this board to intervene in the patient-doctor relationship particularly troubling,” Dr. Roe said. “I believe my bill is a testament to the fact that members of Congress can put party politics aside, come together and do what’s right for our seniors. I will continue to push for a full repeal of the IPAB, and I look forward to working with my colleagues — both Republicans and Democrats — to protect and preserve Medicare.”

The American Medical Association and other organized medicine groups support elimination of the IPAB, which would recommend cuts to Medicare for fast-track congressional consideration when spending growth exceeds targets. Many have compared it to the entitlement’s sustainable growth rate formula, which has threatened double-digit reductions to Medicare physician pay rates for the past several years.

“IPAB is a panel that would have too little accountability and the power to make indiscriminate cuts that adversely affect access to health care for patients,” said AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD. “Patients and physicians are still struggling with the frequent threat of drastic cuts from the broken SGR Medicare physician payment formula. IPAB would be another arbitrary system that relies solely on payment cuts.”

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