The budget deal in Congress is billed as a measure to grant stability to a government funding process that has lurched from crisis to crisis — but it is also stuffed with provisions that will broadly affect the nation’s health care system, like repealing an advisory board to curb Medicare spending and funding community health centers. Among the more significant provisions is one that would eliminate a powerful 15-member panel, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created by the ACA to control the rising costs of Medicare. The board was to recommend specific savings if Medicare spending per beneficiary was projected to grow faster than certain benchmarks. Congress could have stepped in to block the recommendations, but they did not need congressional approval to take effect. The power of the board gave pause to politicians in both parties, and health care providers and some advocates for Medicare beneficiaries said it could threaten patients’ access to care.
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