An expansion of a coming Medicare saving panel included as part of President Barack Obama's 12-year $4 trillion debt-reduction proposal drew heavy criticism after the plan was released Wednesday.
Plans to expand IPAB meet with criticism
Obama proposed expanding the authority of the Independent Payment Advisory Board to include the power to enact cuts necessary to keep Medicare growth per beneficiary at the rate of GDP per capita plus 0.5%. That panel—set to begin recommending cuts to the seniors' healthcare program in 2014—already has the authority to hold Medicare spending to the nominal per capita growth in GDP plus 1%.
“Today, the president has once again punted the tough decisions to tackling soaring healthcare costs by dramatically expanding the power of a board of unelected bureaucrats,” said Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), in a joint statement.
They cosponsored a bill earlier this year to defund IPAB, which has drawn criticism from the healthcare industry over concerns that the appointed board could enact billions of dollars in payment cuts without requiring congressional approval.
“The president's proposal to expand IPAB only furthers the largest problem facing Medicare patients, and that is access to physicians,” said Alex Valadka, a neurosurgeon from Austin, Texas, and spokesman for the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, in a written statement.
The panel and its constant threat of payment cuts may undermine specialty physicians' interest in participating in Medicare in the future, he said.
“We continue to have significant concerns about the overly broad powers of the unelected IPAB, which could enact sweeping Medicare changes without congressional oversight and which would not be subject to judicial or administrative review,” John Castellani, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said in a written statement.
Critics of the board, which will produce an estimated $16 billion to $24 billion in cuts in its first five years, either want it limited or eliminated. Those IPAB critics include many hospital and physician advocacy groups.
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