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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Independent Payment Advisory Board

David Newman
Specialist in Health Care Financing

Christopher M. Davis
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process

In response, in part, to overall growth in Medicare program expenditures and growth in expenditures per Medicare beneficiary, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended) created the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB, or the Board) and charged the Board with developing proposals to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) is directed to implement the Board’s proposals automatically unless Congress affirmatively acts to alter the Board’s proposals or to discontinue the automatic implementation of such proposals.

The annual IPAB sequence of events begins each year, starting April 30, 2013, with the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services calculating a Medicare per capita growth rate and a Medicare per capita target growth rate. If the Chief Actuary determines that the Medicare per capita growth rate exceeds the Medicare per capita target growth rate, the Chief Actuary would establish an applicable savings target—the amount by which the Board must reduce future spending. This determination by the Chief Actuary also triggers a requirement that the Board prepare a proposal to reduce the growth in the Medicare per capita growth rate by the applicable savings target. The Board cannot ration care, raise premiums, increase cost sharing, or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility. In generating its proposals, the Board is directed to consider, among other things, Medicare solvency, quality and access to care, the effects of changes in payments to providers, and those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. If the Board fails to act, the Secretary is directed to prepare a proposal.

Board proposals must be submitted to the Secretary by September 1 of each year and to the President and Congress by January 15 of the following year. Board proposals are “fast-tracked” in Congress, and IPAB proposals go into force automatically unless Congress affirmatively acts to amend or block them within a stated period of time and under circumstances specified in the Act. Section 3403(d) of the Act establishes special “fast track” parliamentary procedures governing House and Senate committee consideration, and Senate floor consideration, of legislation implementing the Board or Secretary’s proposal. These procedures differ from the parliamentary mechanisms the chambers usually use to consider most legislation and are designed to ensure that Congress can act promptly on the implementing legislation should it choose to do so. PPACA also established a second “fast track” parliamentary mechanism for consideration of legislation discontinuing the automatic implementation process for the recommendations of the Board.

The Board’s charge is to develop proposals for the Secretary to implement that reduce the per capita growth in Medicare expenditures, not to reduce Medicare expenditures. Therefore, while the Congressional Budget Office projects that the cumulative impact of the Board’s recommendations from 2015 through 2019 will reduce total spending by $15.5 billion, during the same period, Medicare expenditures will total $3.9 trillion with average spending per beneficiary forecast to increase from $13,374 to $15,749. While the Board’s potential impact on total expenditures is likely to be relatively small compared to overall Medicare expenditures, its impact on particular Medicare providers or suppliers may be significant, particularly if the Board alters payment mechanisms. Finally, the Board’s impact may be larger if private insurers continue to track Medicare payment policies and adopt similar reductions in payments to their providers and suppliers.

Date of Report: April 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 39
Order Number: R41511
Price: $29.95

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