The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to remove a Medicare cost-control advisory board from the 2010 health care reform law Thursday.
The 223-181 vote to approve the H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is supposed to compose of 15 presidentially appointed members who haven’t been selected, reflected the deep partisan divide over the health care reform that lasts two year after the Democrats pushed the measure through Congress.
Seven democrats joined the 216 Republicans to support the repeal, and 10 Republicans opposed.
The measure sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey, (R-Ga.) passed today also limit amounts of damages awarded in medical-malpractice claims for pain and suffering at $250,000 in most states and limit contingency fees to lawyers.
The IPAB would be tasked with making binding recommendations on reducing Medicare spending starting 2015, and if Congress doesn’t agree with the cuts recommended, it would be required to pass its own cuts of the same size.
Most Republicans and some Democrats oppose the IPAB because they say that it would lead to rationing of medical care, even though the Obama Administration has noted that the board would be prohibited from recommending changes to Medicare that ration health care, restrict benefits, modify eligibility, increase cost-sharing, or raise premiums or revenues.
Several Democrats had voiced support for the IPAB repeal earlier this month, but after House Republicans added a provision to the IPAB bill that limited the capped the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits, Democratic support increasingly diminished.
Traditionally, Democrats oppose caps on medical malpractice lawsuits, and Republicans said that the cap would discourage frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
Thursday’s vote came a day before the second anniversary of the health care law, and just ahead of next week’s Supreme Court hearings on its constitutionality.
The bill is unlikely to be brought up in the Senate and President Barack Obama promised to veto it if it is passed.