The Honorable Joseph R. Pitts, Chairman
Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6115
Dear Mr. Chairman:
On behalf of RetireSafe’s 400,000 senior-citizen supporters across America, I commend you for providing a hearing on the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), and the bill to repeal it, H.R. 452. We have endorsed H.R 452, as sponsored by Representative Phil Roe and more than 150 cosponsors. IPAB must be repealed, and we look to your Subcommittee to begin that process.
In line with her previous activity, we would expect Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to again try to defend IPAB, in effect putting lipstick on this bureaucratic “pig,” an unelected rationing board. As she continues the spin that this is good for Medicare patients, we urge you to ask:
· If IPAB is good for Medicare patients, why do patient advocate groups oppose it?
· Why has an unelected board been empowered to make decisions that will impact millions of older Americans? Do you think it is right that just eight members of IPAB (a majority) can make final decisions for all Medicare patients?
· What will be the ramifications if IPAB severely cuts payments for hospitals, doctors, and new drugs, devices, and therapies? How will that NOT cut benefits and limit patient access to medicines and treatments that will save their lives and enhance their existence?
· Doesn’t IPAB usurp the rights and responsibilities of Congress? And why is a super-majority vote required to change an IPAB edict?
· How and why does the IPAB process exclude the Courts from tempering its excesses and the resulting harm to patients?
· If Medicare is indeed “going broke,” the justification you give in defending IPAB, then why does the Administration insist on taking hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act and deficit reduction?
· Why is the inflation formula used for the IPAB process a blended inflation index, rather than the health care inflation index which would more accurately match Medicare spending increases? Won’t this artificially lower inflation index ensure that Medicare providers and beneficiaries will always be cheated by the bogus spread between it and the rate of spending increase in Medicare?
· Representative Pete Stark has said of IPAB, "It is a mindless rate-cutting machine that sets [Medicare] up for unsustainable cuts that will endanger the health of America's seniors and people with disabilities." "It is an unprecedented abrogation of Congressional authority to an unelected, unaccountable body of so-called experts," he said as well. Do you agree with Representative Stark?
These questions must be answered, and when they are, the need for IPAB repeal will be even clearer. We are most appreciative of your efforts to advance H.R. 452 and begin that process.
Thair Phillips, President, RetireSafe