U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) today voted against legislation that would have repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) provisions of the Affordable Care Act at the cost of capping malpractice settlements at $250,000.
"I support repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, as do many Democrats. Make no mistake, I strongly support the Affordable Care Act. This bill will lower costs, strengthen Medicare, and provide 33 million uninsured Americans with health insurance. This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Pascrell, who, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, served on one of the three committees of jurisdiction that wrote the Affordable Care Act.
"But I have concerns with IPAB, including how it will operate and that it gives up important Congressional authority over pricing. Abdicating our responsibility is not the right thing to do for our seniors. I was elected by my constituents to protect Medicare. I supported this bill in the Ways and Means Committee, and I would love to support it on the floor. That's why it's so disappointing that the majority would abandon any semblance of compromise by attaching this sharply partisan medical malpractice proposal. Capping malpractice settlements limits patient protection. There's no question that we need to protect health care providers from frivolous litigation, and I am willing to work in a bipartisan way to develop those protections. But not at the expense of the vast majority of Americans who have, for too long, lived without access to affordable quality health care, and who should also be afforded the fullest protection of our legal system."
The Patient Protection and Health Care Reform Act includes the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to develop proposals to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending. Its inclusion came by way of U.S. Senate deliberations on the legislation. It was not a part of any of the drafts that originated in the House.
IPAB is triggered only when the Chief Actuary determines that the Medicare per capita growth rate exceeds the Medicare per capita target growth rate.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services is directed to implement the Board's proposals automatically unless Congress affirmatively acts to alter the Board's proposals or to discontinue the automatic implementation of such proposals.
IPAB is scheduled to start on April 30, 2013. It cannot ration care, raise premiums, increase cost sharing, or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility.