Saturday, March 24, 2012

Healthcare:  House Votes to Kill a Medicare Cost Panel

... the Republican-controlled House passed a bill on Thursday to abolish a Medicare cost control board created by the new health care law.
The stated purpose of the new panel, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, is to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending. Spending cuts recommended by the 15-member board would take effect automatically unless Congress voted to block or change them.

The Independent Payment Advisory Board encompasses all that is wrong with the Affordable Care Act, said Representative Michael C. Burgess, Republican of Texas. It is not accountable to any constituency, and it exists only to cut provider payments to fit a mathematically created target.

Under the law, the board cannot make recommendations to ration health care, raise revenues or increase beneficiaries' premiums, deductibles or co-payments.

Republicans said the board would inevitably try to save money by cutting Medicare payments to doctors, who would then be less willing to treat Medicare patients.

Representative Alcee L. Hastings, Democrat of Florida, said: I am appalled by the hypocrisy of my Republican colleagues who keep stating that federal spending needs to be kept under control. But at the first opportunity, they wind up rejecting one of the most serious tools in place to actually tackle Medicare spending and make care more affordable.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the board could increase Medicare spending by a total of $3 billion from 2018 through 2022.

For more, see House Votes to Kill a Medicare Cost Panel by Robert Pear, March 22, 2012 at NYTimes.com.

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