New Medicare payment board to play role in lowering deficit, Orszag says

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Peter Orszag
Peter Orszag

An Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) established under the healthcare reform act will help to ensure the nation's future fiscal health, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said Thursday.

If set up correctly, the Medicare payment board will contribute to a reduction in national health costs and the federal deficit, Orszag said before the Economic Club of Washington last week, according to the Bureau of National Affairs. Under the reform law, the board will be empowered to make Medicare payment decisions beginning in 2014. Unlike the current Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the IPAB recommendations will automatically go into effect unless Congress blocks them.

The new board will also help shift the healthcare system toward quality and efficiency and away from quantity, Orszag said. While acknowledging that no one is quite sure yet how to reimburse for quality instead of quantity, Orszag said the board would be empowered to implement some of the more promising ideas and to replicate the most successful ones. Also last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that unless the federal government curbs rising deficit costs, it may have to change the Medicare and Social Security programs.