Letter to the Editor

International Price Index

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Our elected officials in Washington have been coming up with new ideas to fix the mess of health care and Medicare left by previous administrations. This work has resulted in some positive policies, and others that have some major setbacks. Thankfully, we have Senator Grassley in Washington to examine policy changes with a keen eye.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed the International Price Index at the end of last year which would tie physicians Medicare Part B reimbursements to foreign governments’ rates. It’s a type of government price control that would be tied to an index based on 15 countries, the majority with socialized health care.

Senator Grassley was right to point out earlier this year that this proposal would have a negative effect on innovation if it went into effect. Our ongoing shortage of physicians would likely increase dramatically. Closer to home, Jaci Hermstad would have little access to new medication and treatment. A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that this type of reference pricing lead to less private investment in research and development in medicine worldwide. This would also likely disrupt patient care. The IPI test phase would require geographic areas across the country to participate in a new reimbursement system that would add administrative burdens and remove a market-based reimbursement system. This could result in even more community and rural providers having to send their patients to more expensive hospital settings in bigger cities. I’m having difficulty seeing how the United States could benefit one little bit!

Last month, Speaker Pelosi put out a recent draft plan that would expand this system IPI into other parts of Medicare and even the private sector. This takes an issue Senator Grassley boldly opposed and shifts the negative aspects into overdrive. I encourage Senator Grassley to work with his colleagues in Washington to prevent this new plan, and this expended from of IPI from becoming policy. I’m afraid we we’d be worse off than ever before. …

— Bill Kersting, Spencer