WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at a markup of legislation to improve Seniors’ Access to Medicare.
CLICK HERE to watch today’s markup.
Remarks as delivered:
“Today our Committee is taking another bipartisan step forward to improve Medicare for our nation’s seniors. We’ll be considering one bill – the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2017.
“This legislation by Congressmen Phil Roe and Raul Ruiz repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board – or “IPAB” – created in Obamacare. And the bill has significant bipartisan support. In fact, it has 43 Democrat cosponsors.
“One of our main priorities in health care is to empower patients, families, providers, and states. We want to give the American people – not Washington – more control over their own health care decisions.
“That’s why this legislation is so important.
“The IPAB was created under Obamacare as a way to cut costs in Medicare. But really, the panel is just a way for Washington to cut corners – taking Congress and the American people out of the decision-making process.
“While IPAB’s board members have not been appointed to date, here’s how it would work:
“This board would be made up of 15 unelected bureaucrats with unprecedented unilateral powers. These 15 people would have the ability to push forward sweeping Medicare cuts just to keep program spending at some arbitrary level.
“So that means 15 bureaucrats could slash payments to thousands of providers, forcing them to stop seeing Medicare patients.
“It means 15 bureaucrats could decide where millions of seniors can and cannot receive the care they need.
“It means 15 bureaucrats have de facto authority to ration care for millions of Medicare beneficiaries – all without accountability, judicial review, or transparency.
“And if these board Members are never appointed or confirmed, cuts will still occur as the HHS Secretary would be solely responsible for developing the legislation to cut Medicare to achieve the savings target.
“Putting Medicare on sustainable financial footing is a top priority for this Committee, but passing the buck to a handful of unaccountable bureaucrats is not the right approach.
“Rather than take control away from the American people, we should expand choice, access, flexibility, and competition in Medicare. And we can start right now by passing this legislation to terminate the IPAB once and for all.
“Our Committee has voted several times to repeal the IPAB – and each time it has received bipartisan support. I hope that this bill by Congressmen Roe and Ruiz – who are both doctors themselves – will receive the bipartisan support it deserves.
“And though neither of these Congressmen are Members of our Committee, I’d like to say I’m grateful for their hard work and leadership on this important legislation.
“We all recognize that repealing the IPAB is crucial to maintaining and expanding access to high quality care for our nation’s seniors. And I encourage all the Members of our Committee to join me in moving this bill forward today.
“I would also like to make clear that action on this important legislation doesn’t stop after this markup. We will look to find a way to advance this crucial piece of legislation on the House floor, including as part of other “must pass” pieces of legislation.
“With that, I’ll now recognize Ranking Member Neal for his opening statement.”