ANTI-IPAB bill faces Senate, Obama opposition
Bill to kill IPAB faces big hurdles from Senate, Obama administration
AHouse-passed measure to overhaul malpractice law and nix a controversial Medicare cost-cutting board faces formidable hurdles from both the Senate and the Obama administration. The bill, passed 223-181 by the House on March 22, paired two priority GOP bills that advanced separately through the chamber’s committees. The first part of the bill, which had garnered wide bipartisan support, would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to cut about $15 billion from Medicare within the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The second part of the bill was more con- troversial because it would create a $250,000 cap on any malpractice suit nationwide. Also, it requires apportioning damages based on a defendant’s degree of fault and caps punitive damages at 200% of economic damages awarded or $250,000.
The pairing of the two measures cost the bill some support because conservative Republicans opposed it for trumping state malpractice law and Democrats said they generally oppose malpractice awards limits.
For instance, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (DPa.), a proponent of repealing the Medicare board, voted against the final bill because it included malpractice caps.
“There was no bipartisan discussion” about malpractice reform by the bill’s authors, Schwartz told reporters. “If they were serious about it, we would have had that.”
Seven Democrats ended up supporting the bill, while 10 Republicans opposed it.
Republicans countered that despite President Barack Obama repeatedly calling for a federal overhaul of malpractice law, most Democrats would not vote for any such measure because of opposition from trial lawyers.
Advocates for lawyers pushed hard against the bill last week and lamented its passage. However, provider advocates generally cheered its passage through the House and urged Senate action.
“While the AMA continues to support the ACA, including expanded health coverage and insurance market reforms, elimination of the IPAB is an important change that must be made,” Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president-elect of the American Medical Association, said in a written statement. “This new, arbitrary system is not what we need when patients and physicians are already struggling with a looming cut