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Letter: Says Affordable Care Act is misunderstood

Published: November 4, 2012 4:07 AM

I read with interest the letter published Oct. 28 titled "Hopes voters do their homework." The author raises points that require clarification in the interest of understanding the law as it stands. First, as to the $700 billion "currently designated for seniors," readers should bear in mind that this amount is not a cut to current Medicare funding. Rather, it is the proposed reduction in the growth of Medicare spending. This is a subtle but important distinction.Secondly, the author completely misunderstands the nature and purpose of the "15-person panel." This panel is created under Section 3403 of the Affordable Care Act. Its name is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Its goal is to reducing the growth of Medicare spending, through the development or reform proposals if projected Medicare spending exceeds certain targets. Unless Congress enacts its own legislation under a new and expedited legislative procedure, the Secretary of the Department of Heath and Human Services must implement the IPAB's proposals.The IPAB will consist of 15 voting members who will be appointed by the president for a six-year term, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. Whether the IPAB develops proposals depends upon two annual projections that will be made by the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.The IPAB is not a "death panel" and it does not decide "who receives specific medical treatments." Readers should be mindful that all insurance companies decide what medical treatments are eligible for reimbursement. They do not decide who may receive care, only what procedures will be reimbursed. Patients are entitled to whatever treatment they elect, but if not reimbursed by insurance they can always be paid for "out of pocket."David E. Schweighoefer, Hudson

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