AHA supports bill to repeal Independent Payment Advisory Board

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) may be one of the most obscure yet unpopular components of the Affordable Care Act. And the nation's hospital sector has added its voice to those against the IPAB, AHA News Now has reported.

IPAB was designed as a safety valve if projected Medicare spending exceeds a particular limit. The board, which consists of presidential appointees, may make recommendations as to what changes can be made to the program in order to reduce its spending growth curve. The Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would determine if the proposal would achieve the cost reduction goals and if not, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would submit its own plan. Congress could vote to override the recommendations.

Nevertheless, the American Hospital Association has officially urged Congress to repeal the IPAB, primarily because it claims that the board would take decision-making away from lawmakers regarding Medicare policy. 

"IPAB threatens the long-time, open and important dialogue between hospital leaders and their elected officials regarding the needs of local hospitals, the patients they serve and how to provide the highest quality of care to patients and communities," wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack in a letter to Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Phil Roe, both Texas Republicans who have drafted legislation that would repeal IPAB. The bill, known as the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act of 2015, is currently pending in Congress.

Pressure on the IPAB has all but rendered it "neutered" until at least 2016, although AHA News Now noted that that it won't make any significant financial decisions until 2020.

Along with opposition from the the acute care hospital sector, nursing homes and rehab facilities also object to IPAB, with McKnight's reporting that the presidential appointees would consist of "15 unelected and largely unaccountable individuals whose primary purpose is to cut Medicare."

To learn more:
- read the AHA News Now article 
- check out the AHA's letter (.pdf)
- here's the McKnight's article

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