Neurosurgeons Support Legislation to Repeal Medicare Board

Released: 1/22/2013 4:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)
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Newswise — Washington, D.C. (January 22, 2013) — The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) joined 24 other medical societies in endorsing the “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act.” Sponsored by Reps. Phil Roe, MD (R-TN) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), this bipartisan legislation would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), thereby protecting seniors from Medicare cuts that could threaten their access to care.

The IPAB was created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and is a board of 15 unelected and largely unaccountable government bureaucrats whose primary purpose is to cut Medicare spending. In fact, by 2015, the IPAB will have the power to cut billions from the Medicare program. In addition to these cuts, there are also many other problems with the IPAB, including:

• If IPAB fails to report recommendations, the power to make significant Medicare policy decisions will rest solely in the hands of a single individual – the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services;
• Fewer than half of the IPAB members can be health-care providers, and none are permitted to be practicing physicians or otherwise employed;
• Providers representing roughly 37 percent of all Medicare payments, including hospitals and hospice care, are exempt from IPAB cuts until 2020 – thus, IPAB-directed cuts will disproportionately fall on all other providers, including surgeons;
• Physicians are facing cuts of more than 40 percent over the next decade, and without a permanent solution to Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula, physicians could be subject to “double jeopardy” with cuts from both the SGR and IPAB; and
• IPAB severely limits congressional authority and eliminates the transparency of hearings, debate and the meaningful opportunity of stakeholder input. Additionally, IPAB recommendations are “fast-tracked” and automatically go into effect unless blocked or amended by Congress within seven months, which is completely unrealistic.

“Allowing an unelected, unaccountable body with minimal congressional oversight to have the power to make arbitrary cuts to Medicare will negatively affect timely access to quality health care for our patients,” said Dr. John A. Wilson, a neurosurgeon from Winston Salem, NC, and chairman of the AANS/CNS Washington Committee.

Dr. Wilson added, “Neurosurgery recognizes that we need to control the growth of health-care spending, but the IPAB is simply the wrong solution for addressing these budgetary challenges. Instead, Congress needs to repeal the IPAB and develop a bipartisan workable alternative which reimburses physicians effectively and safeguards access of care to those in the Medicare program.”

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The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), founded in 1931, and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), founded in 1951, are the two largest scientific and educational associations for neurosurgical professionals in the world. These groups represent over 8,000 neurosurgeons worldwide. Neurological surgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system, including the spinal column, spinal cord, brain and peripheral nerves. For more information, please visit www.aans.org, www.cns.org or www.neurosurgeryblog.org.


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