Roe: Supercommittee should ax IPAB

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said Thursday that the deficit-cutting supercommittee should repeal one of the healthcare reform law's chief cost-control measures.

Roe is a leading opponent of the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member board with the power to cut Medicare payments almost unilaterally. The board will recommend payment cuts that take effect unless Congress votes to stop them.

The IPAB could become a mess on the order of Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, Roe warned in a letter to supercommittee leaders Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

Congress designed the SGR formula to make small, gradual cuts in doctors' payments. But lawmakers consistently block those cuts without fixing the underlying formula. Now doctors face a 30 percent cut unless Congress passes another short-term patch at the end of this year.

"If IPAB-mandated cuts make it economically impossible for physicians to treat Medicare beneficiaries, Congress will likely take similar action — at a significant cost," Roe said in his letter.