Congressman Bob Gibbs

Representing the 7th District of Ohio

Washington Doesn’t Like Me Very Much

May 25, 2012
Washington Does Not Like Me Very Much
Washington Doesn’t Like Me Very Much - Independent Payment Advisory Board

With the Supreme Court soon to rule on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a lot of Washington’s focus is on healthcare in America.  I, too, have been spending a great deal of time thinking about healthcare and what the right path is for Ohioans and Americans.  What I can tell you is that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is one area that causes significant conflict between me and the bureaucrats here in Washington, D.C.  My strong opposition to IPAB and unwillingness to follow the status quo is just another reason that Washington doesn’t like me very much. 

In short, I am against IPAB because it places 15 unelected bureaucrats in between the sacred/personal/private relationship of a patient and their doctor.  This 15-member panel with unlimited power will be tasked with coming up with savings in Medicare by arbitrarily cutting payments to your doctors and hospitals for procedures they deem “unnecessary.”  IPAB will make it much more difficult for seniors to obtain the individualized healthcare they need and will limit access not only for those on Medicare, but for all Americans. 

IPAB was included in the Affordable Care Act, under the guise that it would be a cost saving measure in years where Medicare costs increased.  However, under the law they would be free to reduce payments to levels so low that no physician would provide the care.  With some doctors no longer accepting new Medicare patients, to further cut reimbursement levels will only exacerbate the problem. 

According to the nonpartisan Medicare Board of Trustees, the Medicare trust fund will be bankrupt by 2024.  Since the President refuses to propose a plan to strengthen and preserve Medicare beyond this date, IPAB will be focused on meeting a budget, not providing quality patient care.  I am fearful that this will lead to the rationing of our healthcare system.

Additionally, basic checks and balances are non-existent.  Board members have the ability to meet in secret and accept unlimited gifts and services from lobbyists.  Their annual operating budget will raid the Medicare trust fund to pay for everything from travel expenses to board members’ (and even their staff’s) salaries.  Unlike other federal agency rules, IPAB decisions cannot be challenged in court.  As we have seen with the current administration, the courts are sometimes the only course of action to stop an overzealous agency.

I have supported repealing the ACA and replacing it with common-sense reforms, including the purchase of insurance across state lines, coverage of pre-existing conditions, protecting and expanding health saving accounts, tort reform, increasing quality and access to healthcare, and actually lowering costs.  But in the meantime, if fighting to keep the government from placing a middle man in your doctor-patient relationship means that Washington doesn’t like me very much, I must be doing something right.

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