In a vote primarily along party lines, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to repeal the portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that would have created the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
By a 223-181 vote the House approved HR 5 (the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011) with four amendments:
Republicans (and some Democrats) have been vocal opponents of the independent board, which would be empowered by the ACA to analyze the drivers of Medicare cost growth and recommend to Congress policies to control those costs, if spending exceeds a targeted growth rate. The common complaints were that the unelected board usurped the powers of Congress to govern and that the board would have the power to ration healthcare.
The medical malpractice portion of HR 5 limits punitive and non-economic damages (so-called pain and suffering) to $250,000 and limits contingency fees to a set percent of the damage recovery.
At best the vote is symbolic. It is unlikely that the Democratic-controlled Senate will even consider a repeal of IPAB or malpractice tort reform for that matter.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced in February the Healthcare Bureaucrats Elimination Act (S 2118) to repeal IPAB. The bill has 22 Republican co-sponsors and no Democratic co-sponsors.