Just days before the Supreme Court is set to begin reviewing the constitutionality of the new health care law and on the heels of the two-year anniversary of the bill's signing, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation to abolish the law's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and to reform medical liability rules. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon), a co-sponsor of the IPAB repeal, voted in favor of the bill.
"When Republicans took control of the House in January 2011, one of the first things that we did was vote to repeal the new health care law in its entirety," said Rep. Thornberry. "Since then we have voted 25 times to repeal, dismantle, and defund different parts of the massive, 2000-plus page law," he continued.
On Thursday, the House voted to abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Originally, the new law authorized IPAB to "control excessive Medicare cost increases." Critics say that the panel would have given 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats the authority to make decisions related to what care patients can access and whether insurance would pay for it. Organizations ranging from the American Medical Association, to military and veterans groups, and Easter Seals -- more than 390 groups and counting -- have expressed support for ending the IPAB.
The House also voted in support of reform to medical malpractice laws. The bill places a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, which is similar to limits that Texas has. It also limits attorney's fees and establishes a statute of limitations for filing health care lawsuits. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these reforms could reduce medical liability premiums by 10 percent nationally.
Over the past year or so, the House has led the way in ending two separate programs that are part of the law, including the 1099 IRS-mandate and the free choice vouchers. Both measures passed the Senate, and the President has already signed them into law.
The House has also passed a repeal of the long-term care entitlement program known as the CLASS Act. The Administration has ceased implementation of this program. And in spending bills, the House defunded $305 million from the IRS, limiting their ability to implement some of the tax provisions in the health care law.
"I strongly believe that the Obama health care bill was a mistake and it is already adversely affecting health care for many Americans. I support repealing the law or dismantling it piece by piece and then starting over," said Thornberry. "We need to make improvements to our health care system. Pursuing reform in smaller increments can not only be more successful, but attract the support and trust of the American people as well," he concluded.