What Does the “Death Panel” Rumor Have To Do With Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board?
We want to know the function of Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and whether the rumor that it might be used as a “Death Panel” is true.
What is IPAB?
Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is a group that does not yet exist and is not even scheduled to become effective until 2019 if it goes into effect at all. The ACA has two sections (3403 & 10320) which legally establish a bipartisan agency called IPAB to be established if Medicare’s per-capita spending exceeds spending targets.
IPAB’s function would be to slow health care expenditures. However, firstly the annual publication on IPAB Determination would have to find a need to establish the agency. Secondly, IPAB would have to be established and populated since it does not yet exist as anything except a potential agency. Thirdly, once all this happens, assuming it ever does, the agency’s power would be phased in allowing it to recommend that Congress limit fees paid to doctors and other providers.
This cost containment provision has been used in anti-ACA propaganda. People have prayed on the fear that any limitation on costs or services might be used to deny people life-saving medical care. The major medical profit-makers, medical device makers, big pharmaceutical companies, provider stakeholders like dialysis chains, and insurance companies would like consumers to believe that limiting corporate profits would institute a “death panel” to limit services.
The matter has been brought to the Supreme Court. Because the IPAB does not yet exist and no proof of loss or damage related to it could be shown, the court refused to hear the case.
For a policy discussion please see the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) What is Happening Now.