500 groups urge Congress to repeal Independent Payment Advisory Board

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More than 500 organizations are pressing Congress to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a board created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to find ways to cut Medicare spending if it exceeds a certain threshold, according to The Hill.

The IPAB has not been set up yet, but has faced strong opposition from Republicans who call it a "death panel," warning it would diminish seniors' access to care.

The 500 groups calling for the IPAB's repeal are largely healthcare providers who are worried about potential cuts to Medicare. In a letter to Congress — signed by the Healthcare Leadership Council, American Medical Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Vietnam Veterans of America and others — healthcare organizations argue that the IPAB will end up simply cutting payments to providers instead of seeking to devise long-term improvements to Medicare's efficiency because it must achieve savings in a one-year time frame, according to the report.

"This would be devastating for patients, affecting access to care and innovative therapies," the letter reads.

The letter also expresses worry that an "unelected board without adequate oversight or accountability" would employ an "unacceptable" decision-making process by "taking actions historically reserved for the public's elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate," according to The Hill.

Reps. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) sponsored the legislation to repeal the board. The legislation has 222 co-sponsors including 19 Democrats.

According to The Hill, the board is prohibited from recommending changes intended to cut spending that would require the rationing of care or make seniors pay more out-of-pocket. Defendants of the board maintain its reforms will focus on the efficiency of Medicare's payment system.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote a letter to President Obama in 2013 with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) saying they will not recommend appointments to the board. President Obama, who is required by law to consult with those leaders on the board's appointments, has not nominated anyone to the board. According to The Hill, the Senate must confirm all nominees, which would likely create a battle in Congress.

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