Last week, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds released its annual report on the current and projected financial status of Medicare. Here are a few important takeaways in the 2017 report:
- An update on the IPAB trigger – The Affordable Care Act created the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and tasked it with proposing Medicare cuts if spending exceeds a certain threshold. According to this year’s Trustees report, IPAB will not be triggered for 2017, but the threats posed by this unelected board remain a major concern for more than 700 organizations. Cuts proposed by IPAB would be mandatory, giving the board – or the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the absence of an appointed board – the power to make widespread and largely unchecked changes to Medicare.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called for repeal of IPAB, and this year there is a unique opportunity to use a special, fast track procedure (the Joint Resolution to Discontinue the Board). If the special Joint Resolution is enacted by August 15, 2017, IPAB will be repealed. This week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will discuss ways to improve Medicare, and repealing IPAB is one of the topics set to be discussed. Learn more about IPAB and what it could mean for Medicare here.
- Part D rebates continue to grow – The 2017 report shows rebate levels continued to grow to 18.2 percent of total Part D spending in 2015 thanks to robust competition and negotiation, keeping costs low for beneficiaries and taxpayers. Year after year, the Medicare Trustees have consistently found that rebates negotiated for brand medicines in Part D are substantial.
- Part D generic use rates increase – Each year, the generic utilization rate among Part D beneficiaries continues to increase. For 2016, the Trustees report found that Medicare Part D beneficiaries increased generic drug use to 87 percent of all prescriptions – up from 86 percent in 2015 and 85 percent in 2014.