Congressional Corner: What the IPAB Means to Seniors

Congressional Corner: What the IPAB Means to Seniors

By Representative Phil Roe (TN-1)

As a physician who spent more than thirty years caring for patients, I have many concerns about the president's healthcare law. Since the president signed ObamaCare, we've seen many parts of this deeply flawed law negatively impact both patients — especially seniors and providers. But one of the most troubling parts of the Affordable Care Act is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

The IPAB will consist of 15 unelected bureaucrats tasked with finding savings in Medicare. Unfortunately, the board is empowered to make recommendations regarding Medicare without any input from the Congress. IPAB proposals will be considered using fast-track procedures and, absent a three-fifths vote of the Senate, Congress can only modify the type of cuts, not the amount. Should Congress fail to act on the board’s recommendations, they automatically go into effect. To make matters worse, the IPAB is exempt from administrative or judicial review.

It is also concerning that, if the president does not nominate individuals to serve on the IPAB, or if the IPAB fails to recommend cuts, the law gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to make changes unilaterally. There is bipartisan agreement in Congress that the power to affect your healthcare should not be concentrated in one person or board. We should protect Medicare for seniors like you by implementing commonsense reforms, but those reforms should be openly debated in Congress by elected officials, not mandated by backroom bureaucrats that were appointed by the president.

While the IPAB is not allowed to say that a senior should be denied a particular treatment or type of care, the board is allowed to cut payments to the physicians that perform these treatments low enough, that the effect is no physician is willing to provide the treatment. I believe the board is rationing care if its decisions result in reduced access to care for seniors like you.

I have consistently pushed for repealing the IPAB and was proud to introduce H.R. 1190, the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act, with Rep. Linda Sánchez (CA-38) earlier this year. This bill has more than 230 bipartisan cosponsors and was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee with bipartisan support. While Rep. Sánchez and I have differing views on ObamaCare as a whole, I very much appreciate her leadership on this important bill. On June 23rd, the House voted in favor of H.R. 1190, and I hope the Senate will also consider the bill soon.