December 21, 2014

Medicare Cost-control Panel Under Fire

  • The American health care system is a patchwork of public and private programs that serve citizens in different ways, depending on their age, military...

As congressional hearings last week made clear, some lawmakers in both parties continue to chafe at a key cost-control element in last year’s health care legislation: an advisory panel that several years from now could help curb excessive Medicare spending.

Critics of the idea are pushing for repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), arguing that it would infringe on congressional authority. But Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, pointed out last week that the board will function as a backstop for lawmakers: “If Congress is actually paying attention to the bottom line of Medicare, IPAB is irrelevant.”

While many Republicans oppose IPAB as part of their broader resistance to the 2010 legislation, some Democrats also object to the review board. The Concord Coalition, however, considers IPAB an important cost-control effort that should ideally be strengthened to help keep Medicare on a sustainable path.