IPAB Repeal Bill, with Malpractice Rider, Heads to Full House

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , March 21, 2012

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), an early advocate of IPAB repeal, issued a statement to the committee asking Republicans to "set aside political showmanship and bring a clean bill to repeal IPAB to the floor for a vote. Linking this bill to tort reform—an unrelated, divisive, and partisan issue—is bringing what was once a bipartisan effort to a screeching halt. I urge the Rules Committee to reject this offset."

Even a Republican, Rep. Paul Broun, MD, (R-GA) challenged the committee to separate the two bills. "We need to get rid of IPAB. If you marry the two bills you’re going to lose people on both sides and we’ll be less like to get rid of IPAB," he told the committee.

The six proposed amendments include one that would strike the IPAB repeal from the bill and another that would strike medical malpractice caps. Other amendments support efforts to delay implementation of the bill until the Secretary of Health and Human Services submits to Congress a report on the potential side effects of the bill on health care premiums; to extend liability coverage to on-call and emergency room physicians; grant limited civil liability protection to health professionals that volunteer at federally declared disaster sites; and restore the application of antitrust laws to the business of health insurance by amending the McCarran-Ferguson Act.

The White House issued a statement of administrative policy and formally threatened to veto the bill. "HR 5 would repeal and dismantle the IPAB even before it has a chance to work. The bill would eliminate an important safeguard that, under current law, will help reduce the rate of Medicare cost growth responsibly while protecting Medicare beneficiaries and the traditional program."

The statement added that "the administration opposes placing artificial caps on malpractice awards which will prevent patients and other claimants who have been wrongfully harmed from receiving just compensation. The administration is committed to strengthening Medicare, protecting patients, and supporting the physicians who care for them. We believe that this legislation fails to accomplish these goals. If the President is presented with HR 5, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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