House GOP tort reformers have been at it again with their recent push for a vote on H.R. 5, a bill mandating federal level caps on medical malpractice awards across the board of all 50 states. The issue has been brewing for some time, but a flare up occurred last Friday when House Republican leadership announced its plans to attach H.R. 5 to a bipartisan bill aimed at repealing the Independent Physician Advisory Panel (IPAB). IPAB is described as:
A fifteen-member United States Government agency created in 2010 by sections 3403 and 10320 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which has the explicit task of achieving specified savings in Medicare without affecting coverage or quality. Under previous and current law, changes to Medicare payment rates and program rules are recommended by MedPac but require an act of Congress to take effect. The new system grants IPAB the authority to make changes to the Medicare program with the Congress being given the power to overrule the agency's decisions.
The repeal of the IPAB provision of so called Obamacare has drawn widespread support in the House, but H.R. 5 is clearly a partisan bill favored by the GOP. As House leadership continues to push for a floor vote on the packaged measures as early as next week, voices are being raised in opposition.
On Monday, Democratic supporters of the stand alone IPAB repeal measure began jumping ship in droves because they view linking it to the medical malpractice reform provisions as a poison pill for the packaged measures. Current thinking is that few, if any, Democrats will vote to support the combined measures and that leaves the House supporters of the measures in a tough spot.
And today, the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), a bipartisan group of state legislators from all 50 states, wrote a letter to House leadership to express strong opposition to H.R. 5, be it as a stand alone measure or as attached to any other piece of legislation. The argument? Tort reform measures such as medical malpractice caps are states' rights issues, period.
Tort reform is anti-patient, anti-consumer, anti-free market, anti-Constitution and anti-Bill of Rights. Any debate on the topic should be held at the state level where all stake holders can take an active role in the process. Now is the time to contact your Representatives to oppose H.R. 5.
Raise your voice.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.