Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Independent Payment Advisory Board

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will live to regulate another day.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a case that challenges the IPAB, a creation of the Affordable Care Act that was designed as a safety valve if projected Medicare spending exceeds a particular limit. The board, if activated, has the power to cut Medicare payments to physicians with relatively little input from Congress. In the public eye it has also been called the "death panel." 

The legal challenge to the IPAB was brought by the Goldwater Institute, a right-of-center organization that had claimed it had extraordinary powers while leaving the American public without recourse.

The case, Coons v. Lew, was brought by Goldwater on behalf of Nick Coons, a businessman, and Eric Novack, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, who decided to challenge the constitutionality of the body, the IJReview reported. A lower federal court had decided that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the suit in the first place.

"This case is not dead; we're simply in a holding pattern," Christina Sandefur, a senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute, said in a statement. "We will bring this challenge again once the Independent Payment Advisory Board takes action."

The IPAB is supposed to have 15 appointees, although the president has yet to appoint anyone to the board. It also is unable to make decisions unless per-enrollee Medicare spending outpaces regular inflation, which it has not done in recent years. And there have been a variety of bills sponsored in Congress to kill the IPAB.

Hospitals are also opposed to the IPAB. The American Hospital Association urged its repeal earlier this month, claiming that it limits Congressional oversight on policymaking in regard to the Medicare program.

To learn more:
- read the IJReview article 
- check out the Goldwater Institute's statement