U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, voted to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) requirements of President Obama's healthcare law Thursday.
"Most people don't know that the government takeover of their health care includes the creation of a panel of 15 unelected bureaucrats who will determine whether or not a doctor who accepts Medicare gets paid to perform procedures or exams. This takes healthcare decisions away from doctors and their patients and puts them in the hands of government bureaucrats who are more concerned with the bottom line than the health of Medicare patients," Rep. Barletta said. "I'm proud to vote to repeal this part of President Obama's healthcare law because the doctor-patient relationship is critical to maintaining the health of our citizens, especially our senior citizens.
"What's more troubling is that IPAB -- 15 appointed, unelected bureaucrats -- are not required to hold public meetings or hearings. IPAB members are also allowed to accept gifts and donations of services or property, so they can receive cash, meals, cars, vacations, houses, or other "gifts' from lobbyists. And IPAB's budget would come from the Medicare trust fund itself, with members and staffers receiving six-figure salaries for their cost-cutting work. These are not the people I want making healthcare decisions for senior citizens in the 11th District, or anywhere in the United States of America," Rep. Barletta added.
Thursday's vote was to pass the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011 (H.R. 5). The president's healthcare law is officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
PPACA requires IPAB to save money by restricting access to healthcare procedures for Medicare beneficiaries. IPAB would be free to cut reimbursement rates for procedures and services that IPAB deems "unnecessary" to levels so low that no physician would provide the care.
Additionally, President Obama's healthcare law authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement IPAB's so-called "quality" and "efficiency" measures on healthcare providers. Doctors who violate a "quality" standard by prescribing more lifesaving medical treatment than they're permitted to will be disqualified from contracting with any of the health insurance plans that individual Americans, under the president's healthcare law, will be required to purchase. Few doctors would be able to remain in practice if subjected to that penalty.
Medicare is already known for its low reimbursement rates (for instance, Medicare physician payment rates are 20 percent lower than what they receive from private health plans), which have forced many physicians to stop accepting new Medicare patients. But IPAB is specifically tasked with cutting provider rates even further. Many physicians' groups have warned these cuts will force many to stop seeing Medicare patients. And because TRICARE reimbursement rates are directly tied to Medicare, health care for military personnel will be dramatically impacted by these cuts, too.
Since taking office in January 2011, Rep. Barletta voted 25 times to repeal, defund, or dismantle President Obama's healthcare law. So far, Rep. Barletta was able to stop three programs associated with the healthcare law.