Trustees Report Underscores Need for Congress to Modernize, Strengthen Medicare

Healthcare Leadership Council Adds That, Although IPAB Not Triggered by Projections, Repeal Remains Essential

 WASHINGTON – With Medicare’s Trustees projecting that the program will reach insolvency in 2028, two years earlier than last year’s estimates, there is even greater urgency for Congress to begin focusing on how best to modernize and strengthen Medicare, the president of the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) said today.

“If we are to preserve the program for future generations, keeping the status quo is not an option.  As Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Part D prescription drug program have demonstrated for years, consumer choice and competition can drive greater value and better patient outcomes,” said HLC president Mary R. Grealy.

Ms. Grealy pointed out that Congressional Budget Office projections have shown that a Medicare reform approach allowing beneficiaries to choose from competing private health plans would reduce costs to the program as well as out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.

“It will take time for Congress to develop and enact structural, patient-centered, consumer-driven Medicare modernization,” she said, “which makes it all the more important to begin that bipartisan discussion now.”

Ms. Grealy added that, even though the Medicare Trustees’ projections did not trigger activation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) in the coming year, IPAB repeal must remain a priority action for lawmakers.

“Although it’s currently hibernating, IPAB remains a flawed, dangerous concept,” she said. “Congress needs to act before this bear awakens and does serious harm to beneficiaries and the healthcare system.”

IPAB is potentially harmful, Ms. Grealy said, because it transfers decision-making power from elected officials to unelected appointees and would lead to harsh across-the-board cuts to payments for medical goods and services that would have a severe impact on quality and access to care.