Health Industry’s Opposition To IPAB Is Just One More Reason To Keep It

Twenty medical specialty groups have written a letter urging the the congressional super committee to scrap the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a committee created by the Affordable Care Act that is tasked with finding health care savings. “The signers include several specialty medicine groups, including the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American College of Radiology and the American Society of Anesthesiologists. The groups represent more than 350,000 physicians.”

The Hill’s Julian Pecquet has the details:

“Today, the price tag for repealing the IPAB [Independent Payment Advisory Board] is relatively small, so Congress should seize this moment and repeal the IPAB now before the cost to do so becomes prohibitive and access to care problems become acute,” their letter says. “Also, because IPAB funding is authorized to begin on October 1, 2011 and board members can now be appointed, there is urgency for repeal before this board is established.”

The letter recaps industry criticism of the board, claiming its 15 appointed members will take Medicare payment policy out of the hands of elected lawmakers; that it will be required to start recommending cuts starting in 2014 based on spending targets that physicians say are too low; and that it would hurt seniors’ access to care if physicians pull out of the program because of low reimbursements.

To my eyes, the very fact that health care providers are so worried about the board suggests that it has real cost saving potential — both in terms of paying providers less and encouraging them to provide quality health care services more efficiently. So press on with the IPAB or even extend it beyond Medicare and Medicaid, perhaps the mere threat of reductions will inspire hospitals and doctors to take matters into their won hands and begin doing a better job coordinating care. Some are already doing just that.