Mr. SPECTER. Madam President, I have sought recognition to address transparency concerns with the Independent Payment Advisory Board established in H.R. 3590.
As Medicare enrollment grows, the issue of cost-containment becomes more pressing. To address this issue the Independent Payment Advisory Board was included as part of health reform legislation. The Board's task is to slow the rate of growth in the Medicare Program--a goal which is important if the program is going to remain solvent for years to come. It has been suggested that this Board will operate in secret, without public input and its meetings and decision-making process will not be transparent. This belief is inaccurate. The legislation ensures that the Board operates in an open and transparent way that facilitates open discussion and input from the public at large and from Medicare beneficiaries. The legislation specifically authorizes the Board to hold open and public meetings and I would expect that the Board will do this often as it gathers input from various stakeholders in the health care sector and Medicare beneficiaries.
Further, the bill creates a Consumer Advisory Council to advise the Board of the impact that its recommendations will have on consumers and Medicare beneficiaries. The Advisory Council is directed to meet at least twice a year in a forum open to the public. I fully intend and expect that as the Board creates its recommendations it will give ample weight to the views and concerns of the Consumer Advisory Council, as it is consumers that will ultimately be impacted by the decisions of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
The Board and the Consumer Advisory Council must engage in an open and transparent decision making process, with ample opportunity for input from Medicare beneficiaries as well as other health care stakeholders as is intended by this legislation.