Dr. Ruiz’s Bipartisan Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act Passes House

November 2, 2017
Press Release
Legislation amends the ACA to protect Medicare from arbitrary cuts

Washington, D.C. – Today Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, hailed the House passage of H.R.849, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2017. This bill was introduced by Dr. Ruiz and Representative Dr. Phil Roe (R-TN). It passed the House by a vote of 307 to 111.

This bipartisan bill eliminates the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an unelected panel created through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and tasked with reducing Medicare spending. Under the ACA, if a targeted Medicare growth rate is reached, the unelected board or the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is directed to make cuts. That threshold has not yet been reached, so the IPAB has never been convened.

“The Independent Payment Advisory Board was a well-intentioned, but misguided piece of the Affordable Care Act that would have put an unaccountable and unelected panel in charge of making sweeping changes to Medicare spending. What’s more, if the board failed to act, the HHS Secretary would have the sole power to make those cuts. Our constituents should be able to hold accountable anyone who can make cuts to Medicare, regardless of their party,” said Dr. Ruiz.

“I am proud to have worked across the aisle with Representative Phil Roe on this commonsense, bipartisan change to the ACA. I am pleased this bill passed the House today and I urge swift consideration in the Senate. We must come together to protect and strengthen Medicare for our nation’s seniors,” Ruiz added.

“I am thrilled the House passed my bipartisan legislation, and I thank my colleagues for supporting the repeal. The IPAB has been given sweeping powers to change Medicare with little recourse to change direction. Today, a strong bipartisan majority agreed that health care decisions should be left to doctors and patients, not unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats,” said Dr. Roe. “After practicing medicine for more than 30 years, I can tell you that no two patients are the same; different patient needs and preferences require personalized care. The IPAB doesn’t take this into consideration, and could possibly harm seniors’ access to care by utilizing a one-size-fits-all approach to cut Medicare spending. I urge my Senate colleagues to take up and support this important bill.”

“As physicians, we advocate for our Medicare patients. The Medicare IPAB is a blunt tool that ignores the needs of individual patients, and it would reduce access to care and inevitably lead to the rationing of care. Members of Congress are the ultimate stewards of the Medicare program and the well-being of their constituents, not an unaccountable board that has the power to impose significant cuts in patient care. IPAB would not allow thoughtful reforms to improve value in the Medicare program,” said Ted Mazer, M.D., President, California Medical Association. “We should keep medical decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors by voting to repeal the ill-conceived IPAB."

“Today’s vote is a bipartisan statement that the Medicare commitment to seniors and Americans with disabilities must be honored,” said Mary R. Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council.  “The legislation sponsored by Congressmen Roe and Ruiz will repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board and the threat it poses to healthcare access.  We will be strongly encouraging the Senate to act expeditiously and follow the House’s lead in protecting the health of millions who depend on Medicare.”

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation joins other patient organizations in recognizing the importance of extending the solvency of Medicare through cost-containment measures which help control the growth of health care spending,” said Ted Thompson, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. “However, leaving these decisions in the hands of an unelected board who are restricted by unrealistic timelines and expectations creates a dangerous precedent that leaves the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries at risk.”

Click here to watch Dr. Ruiz’s remarks on the House floor and click here to learn more about H.R.849.