Protecting Your Health Care Decisions

Protecting Your Health Care Decisions

By Representative Robert J. Dold (IL-10)

There is nothing more personal than your healthcare decisions.  That’s why I’m concerned about a provision in the healthcare law passed by the previous Congress.  It would allow an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to get between you and your healthcare provider.  The IPAB is set up to determine what types of procedures are covered under Medicare and other forms of government-supported healthcare.

According to last year’s healthcare

law, the IPAB empowers 15 unelected bureaucrats to serve terms lasting six full years.  And they can be re-appointed to serve up to 12 years in total.  That’s a long time to have so much power; in fact, it is longer than the President is allowed to serve.  These board members would make a comfortable six-figure salary, ensuring that they will never feel the pinch themselves of the painful cuts they make.

Board members can decide on Medicare spending cuts, even to the point of revising laws passed by Congress.  Despite its name, the IPAB is not advisory- its recommendations can go into effect without Congressional approval, even when IPAB revises a law Congress has already passed.  Furthermore, the courts have no oversight over IPAB.  There’s no appeals process, checks, or balances to the decisions they make.  That is wrong.  When it comes to determining the healthcare coverage you get under Medicare, the IPAB should not be able to make decisions without oversight and accountability.

I am also concerned that IPAB will restrict your access to doctors in the Medicare program.  Even though IPAB can’t cut benefits, it could decide that a particular treatment you need isn’t covered by Medicare’s benefits.  All of this means your care is at risk.  It is my view that repealing IPAB would ensure that senior citizens and their doctors should continue to have control over how health decisions are made.  That is where control belongs.

I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 452, the Medicare Decisions Accountability Act of 2011 which is a bipartisan bill that would repeal IPAB.  Rest assured, I will continue to fight for the repeal of IPAB so that this board cannot come between you and your doctor.  I would encourage you to reach out to your Representatives and let them know that healthcare is a personal decision and should remain that way.  It is vitally important that we protect your right to private healthcare decisions.

Congressman Robert J. Dold represents the 10th District of Illinois.