Groups urge supercommittee to scrap reform law’s Medicare board

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The letter recaps industry criticism of the board, claiming its 15 appointed members will take Medicare payment policy out of the hands of elected lawmakers, that it will be required to start recommending cuts starting in 2014 based on spending targets that physicians say are too low and that it would hurt seniors access to care if physicians pull out of the program because of low reimbursements.

The IPAB is one of the few provisions of Democrats health law that would cut healthcare costs, and President Obama has asked that it be strengthened. But members of both parties have called for its repeal.

Eliminating the board would increase the deficit, but the letter points out that the longer lawmakers wait, the more expensive it will become to repeal it later — much like has happened with the Sustainable Growth Rate formula for physician payments.

While we recognize the need to reduce the federal budget deficit and control the growth of health care spending, the IPAB is simply the wrong solution for addressing these budgetary challenges, the letter concludes. We need a workable alternative that adequately reimburses physicians and ensures that patients will have timely access to quality care.