Another Look at IMAC
on August 04, 2009 at 11:10 AM EDT
Yesterday, a group of some of the most distinguished health economists in the country sent a letter
to the President and Congress in support of the Administration’s proposal
for the establishment of an independent board of doctors and health experts to guide Medicare policy. This Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC) would make recommendations on Medicare reimbursement policy and other reforms – playing a critical role in allowing health care policy to adjust flexibly to a dynamic health care market, thereby helping contain costs and improve quality over time.
As the authors note, "a properly structured Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), with a congressional mandate and authority to do so, can reduce the rate of growth of health expenditures substantially."
The signatories of this letter are household names to health policy wonks – Alan Garber, Jonathan Skinner, Joe Newhouse, and David Cutler to name just four – and they represent almost half of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisers. Their support of the IMAC proposal underscores what most serious health analysts have recognized for some time: that moving toward a health system emphasizing quality rather than quantity will require continual effort, and that a key objective of legislation should be to put in place structures (like the IMAC) that facilitate such change over time. And ultimately, without a structure in place to help contain health care costs over the long term as the health market evolves, nothing else we do in fiscal policy will matter much, because eventually rising health care costs will overwhelm the federal budget.