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Blog: Question of the Week: Protecting Access to Healthcare


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Question: How did you vote on H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act?

Answer: I voted for H.R. 5 when it passed the House of Representatives on March 22 by a vote of 223 to 181, with four Members voting "present."

H.R. 5 includes two important changes to current law:

H.R. 5, which was modeled after the successful California medical malpractice reform law, would significantly change our nation's medical malpractice system by discouraging frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of health care. The bill would impose a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages and limits the contingency fees lawyers can charge their clients. However, the bill does not limit the actual economic damages that patients may receive. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that reforms in the PATH Act will reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $45 billion over the next ten years.

The bill would also repeal a provision of President Obama's health care law that establishes an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to recommend ways to cut Medicare spending, including cutting reimbursements for some medical procedures or tests. The IPAB will be made up of 15 unelected bureaucrats, who would be appointed by the president and subject to Senate confirmation. However, no more than seven members may be physicians or other health care providers. The majority of IPAB members would consist of nonphysician experts in health finance, actuarial science, health plans, academics, economists, and consumer advocates.

I am concerned that establishing an unelected board to cut Medicare spending may result in cuts to the Medicare program that will make it more difficult for seniors to find health care providers who will be willing to treat Medicare patients.

H.R. 5 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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