Sen. Jay D. Rockefeller (D-WV)

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is a legislative entity whose purpose is to advise Congress on matters of Medicare reimbursement rates and coverage policies. Now, one senator has introduced legislation that would transfer the agency to the executive branch and give it more political muscle.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV) on Wednesday introduced S. 1110, a bill that would make MedPAC an executive branch agency, and provide MedPAC resources and authority to implement Medicare payment policy. Under the proposal, MedPAC would operate more like the Federal Reserve, with the power to implement recommendations that are more insulated from special interests. Rockefeller has argued that in its current form, the decision-making is too susceptible to the influence of lobbyists and outside interest groups.

“If we want serious improvements in our health care delivery system, then we need to reform MedPAC’s current authority to include fully establishing and implementing Medicare reimbursement rules. Congress should leave the reimbursement rules to the independent health care experts,” Rockefeller said.

Long-term care and nursing home representative groups in Washington typically disapprove of MedPAC’s recommendations, which traditionally include freezing the reimbursement rate for skilled nursing facilities. In recent years, Congress has largely ignored its proposed policies.