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Congress: Repeal Death Panels

 

  • July 19, 2017
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • Washington, D.C.  20515
  • Dear Representative,
  • On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on
  • “Examining Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Medicare Program.”  One of the bills under
  • examination will be H.R. 849, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2017,
  • sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), with 209 Republican and 43 Democratic co-sponsors.
  • While there is certainly a lot of disagreement on how to repeal and replace the Patient Protection
  • and Affordable Care (ACA), or Obamacare, there is bipartisan agreement that the Independent
  • Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which was established under ACA to reduce the per capita
  • growth in Medicare expenditures, should be repealed.  The undersigned organizations agree that
  • IPAB needs to go.
  • IPAB is supposed to be composed of a 15-member unelected board, appointed by the president.
  • While the ACA bars IPAB from raising premiums, increasing cost sharing, or restricting benefits
  • for beneficiaries, it can cut payments to doctors, hospitals, and other providers. Reduced
  • payment rates will encourage providers to treat fewer Medicare beneficiaries, raise prices for
  • private sector consumers to offset their losses from seeing Medicare patients, or both.  Even
  • though the ACA specifically states the board cannot “ration” care, that is a distinction without a
  • difference; if a physician must reduce the number of Medicare patients he or she treats because
  • of reduced rates, seniors by default will have their care rationed.  Moreover, IPAB’s decisions
  • are not subject to judicial review and legislative oversight.
  • But IPAB’s power goes beyond controlling Medicare outlays.  ACA requires the board to
  • consider the private sector’s effects on healthcare costs. It has the authority to write regulations
  • that modify both government and private healthcare, provided IPAB finds that its edicts are
  • related to Medicare.
  • Because of IPAB’s unprecedented power, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have
  • long opposed its existence.  In the 115th Congress, three bills have been introduced to put an end
  • to IPAB.  In addition to Rep. Roe’s legislation, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced S. 251, the
  • “Protecting Medicare from Executive Action of 2017,” which has 12 Democratic
  • cosponsors.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has introduced S. 260, “The Protecting Seniors’
  • Access to Medicare Act,” which has 36 Republican cosponsors and is identical to Rep. Roe’s
  • legislation.
  • While the Medicare Trustees 2017 Annual Report, released on July 13, declares that the program
  • will remain solvent until 2029, this should not be an invitation for complacency.  Too much
  • power is being vested into an unelected board, or one person, the secretary of Health and Human
  • Services, if the board has taken no action to prepare a proposal to cut spending.
  • It is imperative that IPAB be repealed as soon as possible and decision-making and spending
  • authority be returned to Congress before Medicare costs reach the threshold that would trigger
  • action by the board.  We urge House leadership to bring H.R. 849 to the floor for a vote and send
  • it to the Senate.  Our goal is to see President Trump sign a bill repealing IPAB as soon as
  • possible.
  • Sincerely,
  • Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
  • Thomas Schatz
  • President
  • National Taxpayers Union
  • Pete Sepp
  • President
  • Independent Women’s Voice
  • Heather R. Higgins
  • President and CEO
  • Goldwater Institute
  • Naomi Lopez Bauman
  • Director of Healthcare Policy
  • Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Patrick Purtill
  • Director of Legislative Affairs
  • Campaign for Liberty
  • Norm Singleton
  • President
  • American Commitment
  • Phil Kerpen
  • President
  • Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom
  • Twila Brase RN, PHN
  • President and Co-founder
  • 60 Plus Association
  • James L. Martin
  • Founder & Chairman
  • American Conservative Union
  • Daniel Schneider
  • Executive Director
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
  • Karen Kerrigan
  • President and CEO
  • Virginians for Quality Healthcare
  • Nancy Piotter
  • Executive Director
  • Association of Mature American Citizens
  • Dan Weber
  • CEO
  • Center of the American Experiment
  • Peter Nelson
  • Vice President and Senior Policy Fellow
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • Grover Norquist
  • President
  • Greg Scandlen
  • Senior Fellow
  • Consumers for Health Care Choices

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