Health Care Reform

Posted: March 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Buried deep in Section 3403 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a powerful board of unelected bureaucrats, the “Independent Payment Advisory Board” (IPAB) whose sole purpose is to save money by restricting access to Medicare where spending is “too high.” Few Americans are aware that this rationing board exists. It embodies what Americans fear most about the law – unaccountable Washington bureaucrats meeting in secret making decisions that should be between patients and their doctors. A review of the IPAB powers makes it clear that Americans should be most concerned. Some of these powers include –
 Rationing health care. IPAB is required to achieve specified savings in years where Medicare spending is deemed “too high. The Board is also specifically tasked with cutting provider rates even further than the current proposed annual cuts which will reduce the number of providers willing to participate in Medicare and subsequently make it harder for seniors to obtain care.
 Medicare Trust Fund foots the bill for the IPAB. This means that IPAB’s member salaries ($165,300 for members and $179,700 for IPAB’s chairperson in 2012) will be paid directly out of the trust funds used to pay Medicare beneficiaries’ health care claims. IPAB staff will also be paid out of the Medicare trust funds (up to $145,700 per employee in 2012). So will all travel expenses and stipends.
 Ability to operate in secret. There is no requirement in the 2,200+ page health care law that requires IPAB to hold public meetings or hearings, consider public input on its proposals, or make its deliberations open to the public.
 The authority to accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property. This provides a not so subtle invitation for lobbyists to lavish the unelected and unaccountable IPAB members with cash, meals, cars, vacations, or even houses.
A more detailed discussion of the IPAB, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6o4y5ll which is an abbreviated link to the House Ways and Means Committee discussion of the IPAB. Remove the apparent political bias and you have substance. The good news is that H.R.452, “Medicare Decisions Accountability Act of 2011”, is scheduled for a House floor vote during the week of March 19-23. H.R.452 would repeal sections of the PPACA (aka ObamaCare) and would restore provisions of law amended by such sections related to the establishment of the IPAB. H.B.452currently has 234 cosponsors. Readers are urged to use the USDR ‘Take Action’ link http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/?style=D to send an editable message to their Representative to cosponsor and vote for passage of this legislation when it comes to floor for vote. [Source: USDR Action Alert 8 Mar 2012 ++]

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