Specialty groups back IPAB repeal

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"The Alliance understands and appreciates concerns with the rising costs of health care," the group wrote in a letter to lawmakers Tuesday. "However, the process and structure of the IPAB is fraught with potential unintended consequences and the IPAB lacks the clinical expertise and the research capacity to examine the national and regional effects of proposed recommendations to ensure patients are not unduly impacted."

Reps. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Alyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) recently reintroduced their bill to repeal the IPAB. It could easily pass the House, but likely would not get a vote in the Senate on its own. The Alliance wrote to Roe and Schwartz to express its support for the measure.

Although the IPAB technically makes recommendations to Congress, its power is vast. The healthcare law requires Congress to take up the IPAB's recommendations quickly, and lawmakers can only stop the panel's cuts from taking effect by passing equivalent cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

"The Alliance strongly opposes the IPAB or any other board resulting in an inappropriate delegation of Congress’ oversight responsibilities," the Alliance letter said. "Significant health care decisions must not be made by a group of unelected, unaccountable individuals with little or no clinical expertise or the oversight required to protect access to care for America’s seniors."

House Republicans' rules for the 113th Congress, though, said they will not abide by the law's timing constraints, meaning IPAB cuts won't move as swiftly through Congress as intended. And Obama has yet to nominate anyone to the board. It's hard to find willing nominees, and anyone selected for the polarizing panel would likely face deep opposition from Senate Republicans.