Today, Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16) chaired a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee investigating the new Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board. Last year's Affordable Care Act created the IPAB in order to control Medicare spending.
The IPAB is a 15-member board of health care experts that are directed by the law to restrain spending. The board's recommendations to cut Medicare reimbursements can only be overturned by a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate and cannot be challenged in court by seniors.
Today's hearing featured testimony from lawmakers, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, doctors, and health care experts.
Rep. Pitts' statement follows:
"Last year's health care law created a new board of 15 bureaucrats to manage Medicare spending, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Seniors and doctors will have little to no say in the decisions made by this board. It will even be difficult for Congress to overrule their decisions. Simply put, this board will be unaccountable to the people or to elected officials.
"At the same time that the IPAB is directed by law to limit the growth of Medicare spending, they are restricted in what areas of service they can cut. This will mean rationed care in certain areas of Medicare. Doctors may not be able to continue providing services meaning longer waiting times for patients.
"Many Democrats agree with Republicans that IPAB should be repealed. I hope that we can come together across the aisle and stop this unaccountable and possibly unconstitutional board from taking power away from the people's representatives."
Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) testified regarding their legislation to repeal the section of the law creating IPAB. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee, also opposes IPAB clearly saying at today's hearing, "We don't need IPAB."