Politics may give HHS chief control of Medicare IPAB

Amed News – June 3, 2013: Washington The powers of the Health and Human Services secretary would increase greatly if no one is appointed to Medicare’s new cost-control board, the Congressional Research Service wrote to lawmakers in a recent memo.

Congress and President Obama have not yet recommended individuals to sit on the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, as congressional Republicans have refused to submit names for consideration for a panel they oppose. In the absence of an IPAB, the responsibility for cutting the $586 billion Medicare program during years when projected per capita spending outpaced growth targets would fall to the HHS secretary, the memo stated. Current budget projections indicate that the board would not be required to craft spending reduction measures for several years, but many lawmakers are concerned about such powers possibly falling to one member of the administration who already wields considerable authority over the health system.

“In short, should the IPAB fail to submit a package of recommendations in a required submission year, the secretary is obligated by law to do so,” the Congressional Research Service wrote to Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R, Okla.). “In either event, such legislation would be governed by the ‘fast-track’ procedures established by” the Affordable Care Act. Such fast-tracking ensures that the panel’s spending reduction recommendations automatically become law unless Congress replaces them with comparable cuts or the Senate overrules the panel with a two-thirds majority vote. Read more


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