IPAB is a politically appointed 15-member Medicare payment board with the power to effectively take treatment decisions away from doctors and their patients by making recommendations to deny or reduce Medicare reimbursement for treatments that do not meet their one-size-fits-all cost effectiveness test. Its recommendations for acceptable and unacceptable treatment options that will affect today’s seniors can only be overridden by a super-majority vote or the passage by Congress of its own Medicare plan that meets the same Medicare spending targets. Patients without the means to pay the complete cost themselves of treatments cut off from Medicare funding by bureaucratic decisions will have to go without treatments that may save their lives.
Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, admitted during her congressional testimony in July 2011 before the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in response to a hypothetical question that, if Congress did not overturn the IPAB bureaucracy’s recommendation for Medicare to reduce its reimbursement payments to seniors for dialysis procedures, seniors may well be left without the means to receive this life-saving treatment:
“Mr. Chairman, as you know, any cut in services, certainly cost shifting to beneficiaries, could mean huge reductions in care that seniors would have the opportunity to receive.”
During a separate hearing before the House Budget Committee, Chairman Paul Ryan asked Sebelius a question that should be at the center of the debate over the future of Medicare:
“[I]f we invest all of the power and the funding decisions to a board of 15 people whose decisions go into law, don’t even go through Congress, is that the best way to save this entitlement and to restrain spending?”
President Obama thinks so. The question for the American people this November will be whether they agree with Obama or want to save Medicare through an innovative solution that protects senior patients’ rights to make their own health care decisions.
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