Washington, DC – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) today voted in favor of H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Health Care (PATH) Act, which will repeal the health care reform law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), among other things. Opposition to the IPAB is broad and bipartisan, and today’s vote marks the House of Representatives’ 26th vote to repeal or defund parts of the unpopular health care law.
“Two short years ago when I was home running St. Giuseppe’s Heavenly Pizza with my family, folks like us were led to believe that when the health care reform bill was passed and we found out what was in it that we’d like it,” Schilling said. “We were told that if we liked our health care we could keep it, assured that the law wouldn’t be a budget-buster, and promised that the government would stay out of our health care decisions. As many of us learned, though, that hasn’t been the case.”
The IPAB is a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats given power under the health care reform law to make cost-cutting decisions that restrict access to health care for Medicare beneficiaries. There is no requirement for the panel’s meetings or hearings to be held publicly, for the panel to consider public or Congressional input on its proposals, or to make its deliberations open to the public. Further, according to the law the board “may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property,” essentially inviting lobbyists to shower the unelected and unaccountable Board members with meals, cash, cars, vacations, or even homes.
“I firmly disagree with the Independent Payment Advisory Board – the Health Care IRS – approach to Medicare, which threatens American seniors’ access to quality health care,” Schilling said. “Medicare is a lifeline to American seniors, and nothing is as important to them as having guaranteed health care coverage. With today’s vote we are protecting and empowering our seniors, removing bureaucrats from health care decisions that should be made by patients, doctors, and families.”
In addition to repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the PATH Act includes lawsuit abuse reform. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40% of medical malpractice suits filed in the United States are “without merit,” leading to the widespread practice of defensive medicine that drives up health care costs without improving patient care. The PATH Act will reduce the practice of defensive medicine, including a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, in other words) and limits on the contingency fees lawyers can charge. The PATH Act does allow for the payment of 100% of plaintiffs’ economic damages (including medical costs, lost wages and future lost wages, rehabilitation costs, etc).
“In last year’s State of the Union Address the President said he would be willing to work with us to make health care better or more affordable, and look at ideas like medical malpractice reform that Republicans had suggested to bring down health care costs,” Schilling said. “The PATH Act does just that. I hope we can move this bill forward together to bring down costs, rein in frivolous lawsuits, and put seniors and their doctors back in charge of their health care decisions."