Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) introduced companion legislation to a bill introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that would elevate the powers of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. The nonpartisan independent body currently has an advisory role in making recommendations to Congress on Medicare payment issues.
Coopers legislation would turn MedPAC into an independent executive branch agency modeled after the Federal Reserve, enabling it to make binding recommendations on the way the federal government pays providers. The goal is to reduce cost and improve quality in Medicare, according to Cooper. President Barack Obama in a recent letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) specifically voiced support to give MedPAC broader powers over Medicare payment decisions.