Making Medicare Stronger

Over the past few years, health care cost increases have been slowing – both for Medicare and private health care. And both CBO and Medicare estimate that cost increases are slowing. Despite these encouraging trends, there is much more we need to do – both to reduce costs and strengthen the Medicare program for future generations and to improve health care quality so patients get the best care possible.

Achieving these goals takes serious work. That’s why the Affordable Care Act is designed to learn from the best health systems and experts in the country to find better ways to improve health care.  Under health reform, we will reward doctors and hospitals that focus on spending time with patients, that better coordinate care, and that improve the quality of care patients are receiving while lowering costs.

Health reform also establishes the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB will be composed of fifteen experts including doctors, consumers and patient advocates who will be recommended by Congressional leaders, nominated by the President, and confirmed by the Senate.  It will recommend policies to Congress to help Medicare provide better care at lower costs.  Congress could pass these or other changes to strengthen Medicare.  Starting in 2015, if Medicare cost growth per beneficiary exceeds a growth rate target, IPAB recommendations would take effect only if Congress fails to act.

Today, Congressional Republicans are working to repeal and dismantle the Independent Advisory Board before it even gets started even though experts like former Bush Administration Medicare Official Mark McClellan called for “[strengthening] and [clarifying] the authority and capacity of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).”  And a coalition of economists including Nobel Prize Winners said “…the Affordable Care Act contains essentially every cost-containment provision policy analysts have considered effective in reducing the rate of medical spending. These provisions include…An Independent Payment Advisory Board with authority to make recommendations to reduce cost growth and improve quality within both Medicare and the health system as a whole”

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