ANTI-IPAB bill faces Se­nate, Obama op­po­si­tion

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - Rich Daly

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

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