Bill to Repeal IPAB Reintroduced in Congress

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Bipartisan legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) has been introduced in Congress. The "Protecting Senior's Access to Medicare Act" (H.R. 351) is sponsored by Representatives Phil Roe (R-TN) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA). This is the second time the bill has been introduced to the House of Representatives, since it was not voted on in Congress' previous session.

IPAB, which was created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is a 15-member board responsible for cutting Medicare spending. The ACR, along with many other medical organizations, have long opposed its creation due to denial-of-care and administrative oversight concerns. Under current provisions, IPAB will become operational this year.

In a letter to the bills two sponsors, Representatives Roe and Schwartz, the American College of Radiology (ACR) chairman of the Board of Chancellors, Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, FACR, expressed his support and reiterated the College's long-standing opposition to IPAB's creation because it would allow unelected officials to make important changes in Medicare reimbursement without the input from elected officials, practicing physicians and patients.

The American Medical Association, for its part, applauded the reintroduction of the bill, and released a statement expressing support.

"Patients and physicians are still struggling with the frequent threat of drastic cuts from the broken SGR Medicare physician payment formula. IPAB would be another arbitrary system that relies solely on payment cuts. We must move away from these broken systems and focus on new payment and delivery models that give physicians the ability to improve patient care and reduce costs to stabilize Medicare for seniors now and in the future," said Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, president of the American Medical Association, in a press release. "We appreciate the leadership of Reps. Roe and Allyson Schwartz on this important issue and look forward to working with them and other bipartisan cosponsors to see this legislation passed."

H.R. 351 is based on H.R. 452, the Medicare Decisions and Accountability Act, which died in committee when it was not voted on by the end of the last session of Congress. While H.R. 452 was able to garner 234 bipartisan co-sponsors and passed the House of Representatives, it could not get through the Democratically controlled Senate. H.R. 351 may have a better shot, the ACR said in a statement on its website, because unlike H.R. 452, it has a Democratic lead sponsor in Representative Schwartz and it is not paired with medical malpractice reform centering on caps on non-economic damages — an unpopular idea with many Democrats.