The Independent Payment Advisory Board

Pain Physician. 2011 Jul-Aug;14(4):E313-42.


The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is a vastly powerful component of the president's health care reform law, with authority to issue recommendations to reduce the growth in Medicare spending, providing recommendations to be considered by Congress and implemented by the administration on a fast track basis. Ever since its inception, IPAB has been one of the most controversial issues of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), even though the powers of IPAB are restricted and multiple sectors of health care have been protected in the law. IPAB works by recommending policies to Congress to help Medicare provide better care at a lower cost, which would include ideas on coordinating care, getting rid of waste in the system, providing incentives for best practices, and prioritizing primary care. Congress then has the power to accept or reject these recommendations. However, Congress faces extreme limitations, either to enact policies that achieve equivalent savings, or let the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) follow IPAB's recommendations. IPAB has strong supporters and opponents, leading to arguments in favor of or against to the extreme of introducing legislation to repeal IPAB. The origins of IPAB are found in the ideology of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the impetus of exploring health care costs, even though IPAB's authority seems to be limited to Medicare only. The structure and operation of IPAB differs from Medicare and has been called the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) on steroids. The board membership consists of 15 full-time members appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate with options for recess appointments. The IPAB statute sets target growth rates for Medicare spending. The applicable percent for maximum savings appears to be 0.5% for year 2015, 1% for 2016, 1.25% for 2017, and 1.5% for 2018 and later. The IPAB Medicare proposal process involves mandatory recommendations and advisory recommendations with multiple reporting requirements. However, although IPAB has been described as having limited authority, some believe that it has unlimited authority due to the lack of judicial review and the requirement of two-thirds of the Congress to override any recommendations by IPAB.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees / economics
  • Advisory Committees / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Care Reform / economics
  • Health Care Reform / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Medicare / economics
  • Medicare / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / economics
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States