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Protect Seniors’ Access to Medicare: Support Repeal of IPAB

kane-reinholdtsen-145944Attention seniors! If you are like me and depend on Medicare for your health care services, now is an important time to be paying attention to what is happening in Washington, DC. It is expected that the Independent Payment Advisory Board, known as IPAB, could soon become a reality.

If you are a longtime reader, then you may already know about IPAB from our previous post. If not, here are the basics:

IPAB was established by the Affordable Care Act. If Medicare spending exceeds a certain level, then a board of 15 unelected officials are given a broad-range of authority to make decisions about mandatory cuts to Medicare spending.

This is a big problem for Medicare beneficiaries like you and me. These bureaucrats are unelected and in no way accountable to voters. They are required to make spending cuts, but not to maintain quality of care. This means IPAB could soon be determining what will be covered under Medicare – from treatments, to procedures, to medications.

And don’t be fooled by the fact that the president hasn’t appointed members to the board yet. Unfortunately, spending cuts are still mandated by law, so all of IPAB’s power is shifted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Proposed changes by IPAB or the HHS secretary can even bypass congressional approval. In this case, the future of health care for millions of seniors could be determined by just one individual.

Across the country, more than 670 organizations made up of patients, doctors, hospitals, employers and veterans are advocating for the repeal of IPAB. Additionally, there is bipartisan support from lawmakers to ensure IPAB never becomes a reality. However, time is running out. As seniors, we must join in and encourage Congress to repeal IPAB today. Our health depends on it.



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Keeping Medicare Strong: Support the Repeal of IPAB

I am a senior on Medicare with high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Like millions of my peers I take medicines daily for both conditions and work hard to prevent anything else from jeopardizing my health. 

There are four things I want when I need medical care: 

  1. I want to have access to a provider who is current with the best practices and best treatments available;
  2. I want my provider to have accurate information about my health, to listen to me when I describe symptoms or ask questions, and to be able to give me the tests I need for diagnosis; 
  3. I want my provider to provide me with the pros and cons of all my options when I receive a diagnosis; and
  4. I want to have access to the health care services and treatments I need through my Medicare coverage. 

 Standing squarely in the way of this is something called IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board set up by the health care reform act to make decisions about Medicare spending.  

IPAB is made up of unelected bureaucrats who are solely tasked with cutting costs to Medicare. They have no responsibility to maintain quality of care or improve Medicare in any way other than cutting spending. In the coming years, IPAB could determine which procedures and medications are covered by Medicare and ultimately even dictate to doctors what treatments are available to their patients.

Moreover, since IPAB members are not elected, seniors (and voters generally) will have no direct way to fight back against these changes. Even Congress would face huge obstacles in trying to block IPAB’s actions. Truly, IPAB is a Medicare beneficiary’s nightmare. It is not what we signed up for. It is not what we have been promised and it is certainly not what we deserve!

Fortunately, there is strong, bipartisan support in Congress to repeal IPAB and restore the responsibility of ensuring Medicare’s solvency back to the hands of elected officials.  This ensures accountability and the ability to exercise your voice.

Over 500 consumer, patient, veteran, provider, and senior advocacy groups are supporting the effort to repeal IPAB. If you believe, as I do, that the decisions impacting your health should be made solely by you and your doctor, then please speak out!