September 20, 2014

Misconceptions About the Medicare Board

  • The American health care system is a patchwork of public and private programs that serve citizens in different ways, depending on their age, military...

Much of the political debate over health care costs continues to focus on who should pay them rather than how to curb their growth. Republicans want private insurers and individuals to pay while Democrats want the government to be the predominant payer for millions of Americans, notably retirees with Medicare.

Either way, the primary driver of health care costs will be what doctors tell their patients. This is why the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, is so important in the effort to control costs. The IPAB will be made up of 15 experts -- confirmed by the Senate --  who will represent  participants in the health care system.

Contrary to what some IPAB critics charge, the board will be specifically prohibited from rationing Medicare benefits, increasing costs for beneficiaries, and raising taxes. But as Concord Coalition Policy Director Joshua Gordon explains in a CNN.Money guest column and a new Concord blog posting, the IPAB will ensure that “promising innovations in cost control will get fair trials based on medical expertise” and will encourage changes in the financial incentives affecting doctors, hospitals and other providers.

“Ultimately,” Gordon writes, “in a country struggling mightily with unaffordable health care costs now, and destined to struggle even more in the future, the IPAB is one of the institutions that give some hope that if we figure out how to control costs, we just might be able to put that knowledge to use.”