Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today voted for legislation to improve our nation's healthcare delivery system and bring down the costs of healthcare. H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act of 2011, would implement needed medical liability reforms and repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which was a part of President Obama's 2010 healthcare bill. The legislation passed the House today by a vote of 223-181.
"Abuse of existing medical malpractice laws is one of the reasons healthcare in the United States is prohibitively expensive for many individuals," said Simpson. "Members on both sides of the aisle recognize that medical liability reform would bring down healthcare costs for taxpayers and consumers, as well as improve access to care, and yet Democrats failed to even touch this issue in the partisan Affordable Care Act. I am pleased that H.R. 5 directly addresses the problems in our healthcare system by placing caps on non-economic damages and limiting attorney's fees. It is estimated to save as much as $120 billion in wasteful spending by reducing unnecessary defensive medicine practices."
In addition to liability reform provisions, H.R. 5 eliminates the IPAB, which was buried in the Affordable Care Act and is made up of a board of unelected bureaucrats tasked with deciding payment rates for Medicare. Included in the ACA is authority for IPAB to operate without public meetings or hearings, consider public input on proposals, or make its deliberations open to the public.
"This is a provision of the new healthcare law that I have long been concerned about," said Simpson. "We all know that without effective reform, Medicare as we know it will not be there for our children and grandchildren. Any changes to Medicare must happen in public, with broad input, and with the best interests of the American people in mind. Unfortunately, the IPAB is authorized to act in the completely opposite manner--with the power to impact America's Medicare benefits behind closed doors and with little public or congressional oversight."
Congressman Simpson has long been a supporter of meaningful, effective healthcare reform and is a cosponsor of H.R. 5.