Malarkey Alert: IPAB Repeal

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  • 11/19/2012

The election may be over, but the malarkey continues.

The most recent Marlarkey Alert comes to us courtesy of the New York Times editorial page.

In defense of the IPAB, the Gray Lady editorializes:

The board, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board, has been the subject of false attacks over the past few years by Republicans who claim that it will ration care, disrupt doctor-patient relationships, and tell patients what treatments they can receive. That is an outlandish way to describe a board that is prohibited by law from making any recommendations to ration care, raise premiums, increase cost-sharing, restrict benefits or limit eligibility.

That’s malarkey.

Medicare spending is expected to be $575.7 billion this year, jumping to over $1 trillion by 2022, as the country ages. Over the next 75 years, the program is projected to accumulate a $38 trillion budget shortfall.

Much of this enormous price tag goes towards financing Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical services -- including diagnostic tests and doctor visits). And yet, IPAB has no authority over either. And the board can’t make any substantive structural changes. Neither the fee-for-service structure nor enrollee premiums and fees can be altered.

The board’s only viable option is to further ratchet down reimbursement rates for Medicare providers, especially doctors, who are already losing money on Medicare patients. Indeed, the financial burden of too-low payments under Medicare has driven 17 percent of doctors and 31 percent of primary care physicians across the country out of the Medicare program altogether, according to a study from the American Medical Association.

If rates fall any lower, seniors will have an increasingly difficult time securing doctor appointments. Visits will be cut short to squeeze in patients and care compromised. 

Lawmakers must cast aside IPAB’s flawed approach (and the media malarkey surrounding it) and focus instead on innovative initiatives that address the program’s real cost-drivers while protecting seniors’ access to care.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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