Letter: IPAB good for Medicare by Kay Hoff
How will the Independent Payment Advisory Board-IPAB-as part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), affect your Medicare?
Obamacare established IPAB to act only if Medicare spending exceeded specified yearly targets. IPAB's recommended changes (most likely cuts in payments to health care providers ) will go into effect automatically unless Congress votes to reject or substitutes its own plan to achieve the same savings. What Congress could no longer do is appoint/ignore supercommittees of congressmen and senators or keep repeating votes to repeal Obamacare.
Like the five successful military defense base closure commissions and unlike the self-appointed supercommittees, IPAB makes Congress do an up/down vote. IPAB members nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate (same process as Supreme Court justices) must be national experts in health care, including physicians and other health professionals, employers, consumers and seniors. In other words, IPAB members will not be subject to campaign contributions and political pressures from special interest lobbyists.
In spite of lobbyist-generated untruths about "rationing of care" and "unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats preventing Medicare from providing you certain treatments," IPAB is specifically prohibited by law from "rationing care, raising taxes or premiums, increasing cost-sharing and restricting benefits."
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated IPAB savings of $15.5 billion over a decade, while estimates if repealed drive up Medicare costs by $3.5 billion in the same period. For example, competitive bidding for durable medical equipment like beds and wheelchairs has already saved Medicare about $8.5 million-again without affecting your quality or care. Similar savings are taking place with reducing overpayments to private plans. Meanwhile, premium support, the new lobbyist-generated code word for voucher, does nothing to improve the quality of care nor reduce rising costs.
Let Senators Johnson and Baldwin and Congressmen Duffy and Ribble know what you support-reducing Medicare costs while improving the quality of your care through science, data, evidence and expert advice OR letting costs continue to rise while you ration your own care through a premium support voucher which allows you the "freedom" to find the care level it covers. You could say it's just as easy as getting a vacuum cleaner coupon and then searching for the machine which does all you want it to do for the coupon price-or digging in your own pocket to make up the difference.
Kay Hoff, Minocqua
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