Medicare Trustees Release Annual Report; IPAB Will Not Be Triggered in 2017

Yesterday, Medicare trustees issued their 2017 report, which includes information about Medicare spending growth. The report indicates that spending levels in Medicare did not exceed its targets, so the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was not triggered as predicted—and as many in the healthcare industry feared it would be.

As we have reported previously, the ASCRS-opposed IPAB is a group of 15 unelected members who would recommend arbitrary cuts to Medicare if spending grows at too rapid of a pace. To date, spending growth has not kept pace with the threshold required to trigger IPAB, and no members have been named to the board. In the event there are no IPAB members to recommend Medicare cuts, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price, MD, is empowered to recommend the spending cuts, which would automatically go into effect unless overridden by a supermajority vote in Congress.

According to the report, IPAB is not projected to be triggered until 2021, and Medicare Trustees estimate that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be solvent until 2029, one year later than they projected last year.

Despite the fact that IPAB will not be triggered in the immediate future, the need for Congress to eliminate the threat to Medicare beneficiaries posed by IPAB remains.

For several months, ASCRS and a coalition of nearly 800 stakeholder groups—representing all 50 states and nearly everyone who gets, gives, or pays for healthcare—has called on Congress to repeal IPAB and replace it with policies that spur innovation and improved outcomes in Medicare as a means to reduce spending on the program. If Congress does not act to repeal IPAB, eventually it could have disastrous effects on the patient-doctor relationship.

There is good news, however, on the repeal front. Pending bipartisan legislation is working its way through both the House and the Senate. Bipartisan cosponsors of the House bill held a press conference yesterday expressing the need to move forward. Rest assured that we won’t stop fighting until the job is done and IPAB is repealed once and for all. If you haven’t done so already, please visit the ASCRS•ASOA Action Alert Center to ask your members of Congress to support legislation to repeal IPAB.