The House Ways and Means Committee June 2 marked-up 10 bills related to the Medicare program, including two bills to repeal components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152) – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and the Medical Device Tax.
Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) opened the hearing calling the Medicare program a “black box” and expressed his hope to “make the program more transparent, more accessible, and more accountable” through various legislative reforms.
Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) echoed similar sentiments regarding the need for increased transparency in the Medicare program, and added that the six bills related to Medicare Advantage “demonstrate that our Committee can collaborate in a bipartisan manner, incorporating stakeholder feedback and technical advice to produce thoughtful legislation.”
However, Rep. Levin further expressed his dissatisfaction with the committee for “considering legislation that is not only more controversial, but would undo two important components of ACA,” referring to the repeal of both the IPAB and medical device tax.
The committee passed (31-8) The Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2015 (H.R. 1190), legislation to repeal the IPAB, a 15-member agency created through the ACA tasked with developing specific proposals to achieve savings in the Medicare program. Although IPAB members have not yet been appointed, if formed, a two-thirds vote in Congress within 75 days and policy changes creating the same level of Medicare savings would be required to override recommendations.
The committee also passed by voice vote five Medicare Advantage reform bills, a long-term care hospital bill, and two Senate bills related to durable medical equipment coverage and extension of a Medicare home-care demonstration.