Bill to repeal Medicare payment panel reintroduced in Congress

Opposition to a proposed independent payment advisory board (IPAB) continued to swell this week following re-introduction of a bill in Congress to repeal a portion of the Affordable Care Act that houses it. Skilled nursing providers have been among providers who do not favor IPAB, which would largely supplant the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

The Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 1190) was reintroduced Monday by Reps. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA). The bill was originally introduced in January 2013 by Roe and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA).

“The IPAB is a government board whose sole job is to cut Medicare spending, and we appreciate that your legislation will repeal this deleterious provision of the ACA,” a coalition of 450,000 physicians wrote in an earlier letter to the bill's current sponsors. In a prepared statement released Monday, the Physician IPAB Repeal Coalition called the proposed board a group "of 15 unelected and largely unaccountable individuals whose primary purpose is to cut Medicare — a mission that, under the guise of controlling costs, will deny patients timely access to care and will undercut efforts to implement long-term, structural improvements to the Medicare payment system."

According to the White House, the IPAB would be composed of 15 “experts including doctors and patient advocates” who would recommend policies to Congress to help Medicare provide better care at lower costs. “This could include ideas on coordinating care, getting rid of waste in the system, incentivizing best practices, and prioritizing primary care.”

The federal government in late February argued to the Supreme Court that a lower court was correct when it dismissed challenges to a payment review provision in the Affordable Care Act. Long-term care providers are among those who had hoped the challenges would be successful.