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Public Statements

Protecting Access to Healthcare Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PALLONE. I thank the gentleman from California.

I have a great deal of respect for my former chairman and colleague from Texas, but as I listen to him, the problem is that it's always the same: It's my way or the highway. And it's just very unfortunate, because there have been many opportunities in the committee where we could have worked together to come up with legislation on things like malpractice reform and IPAB, but that's not what we get from the Republican side of the aisle. They just constantly want to do their own thing.

And as he said, the President may be for malpractice reform, but if he's not for this malpractice reform, then he's a bad guy. And that's the point: We need to get together. If we're ever going to accomplish anything, we need to work together; and I don't see that happening on the Republican side of the aisle today.

I am very disappointed in the process of considering H.R. 5. I am disappointed and frustrated that my Republican colleagues had an opportunity to bring to the floor a bill that I and some of my Democratic colleagues supported, but what they decided to do instead is to simply play political games, political games over and over again.

All sectors of the health care industry agree that the Independent Payment Advisory Board, IPAB, should be repealed. I am the first one to tell you how much I am opposed to IPAB. In fact, during the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health markup, I voted in favor of its repeal. But, unfortunately, my Republican colleagues have no interest in truly repealing IPAB. They only care about defacing the Affordable Care Act and continuing their political game of repealing the law piece by piece. How do I know that? Because they've decided to pay for the IPAB repeal with H.R. 5, one of the most controversial and historically partisan bills of the past decade.

We've been through this same debate. Every time, every year, H.R. 5, on the floor again. Each year the Republicans have been in charge, we're forced to consider identical legislation that contains the exact same areas over which we remain divided. In fact, the Republicans weren't even able to enact this bill into law when they had the majorities in the House and Senate and the Presidency, and the reason is because they have zero desire to solve the problems of this country. All they are interested in accomplishing is a political message to take home to their districts.

I have said again and again that I would work with my colleagues on truly addressing malpractice reform, but those calls have gone unanswered. Over the years, there has been little effort on the part of Republicans to reach across the aisle and to work with Democrats on a satisfactory solution to medical liability reform.

I do understand that medical malpractice and liability is a very real problem for doctors in my home State and in the country, but H.R. 5 is not the answer. Any true reform must take a balanced approach and include protections for the legal rights of patients and be limited to medical malpractice.

Today my vote on this package is a ``no'' vote on H.R. 5 alone. As I have stated, it's too controversial and extreme in its current form. Although it's described as a medical malpractice measure, H.R. 5 extends far beyond the field of malpractice liability.

I am just extremely disappointed. I am being honest in saying this. I am very disappointed that the Republican leadership has robbed many Democrats of their ability to vote cleanly on IPAB repeal and have, instead, yet again, politicized this body.

When will you learn?


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