Earlier today in a 17-5 vote, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee passed HR 452, which would repeal a contentious provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Beginning in 2013, the IPAB will make annual recommendations based on a defined growth rate in Medicare and its recommendations would automatically go into effect without the approval of Congress. The intended effect of the Board is to reduce Medicare growth rates through adjustments in reimbursements and coverage, but the real effect would be additional cost shifting to the private sector and slowing down the adoption of innovative therapies.
The NAM believes cutting Medicare reimbursements is not an effective way to achieve savings and it does nothing to address the long-term structural problems in the system. Put simply, the more costs are cut in Medicare, the more health care providers need to charge private plans to meet their costs.
In addition, limiting access to new therapies will stifle private sector innovation and serve as a disincentive to conduct research and development. Perhaps even more concerning, all of this will be under the control of an unelected body. The NAM believes reforming the system is what must be done, not simply relying on reductions in reimbursements and constructing roadblocks to the advancement of medical treatments.