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House Committee Votes to Repeal IPAB

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, March 7, 2012

The end may be near for the Independent Payment and Advisory Board.

In a voice vote the full House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Tuesday morning to approve the Medicare Decisions Accountability Act (HR 452). The bill's passage sets the stage for a potential House vote to repeal the IPAB.

The committee wasted no time, with the vote coming within 10 minutes of the start of the hearing. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) presented an amendment to the two-page bill to clarify a procedural issue. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) entered statements in support of IPAB from the AFL-CIO and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, among others, into the public record.

Democrats seemed resigned to the vote's outcome. There were no objections to the voice vote and no opposition votes were noted. HR 452 has 232 co-sponsors, including 17 Democrats.

Created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the 15-member IPAB board is empowered to analyze the drivers of Medicare cost growth and then to recommend to Congress policies to control those costs, if spending exceeds a targeted growth rate. IPAB recommendations are to be put in place unless Congress votes to block them and comes up with equivalent cost-cutting measures.

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