March 25, 2012 — The U.S. House of Representatives, largely along party lines, passed H.R. 5, a bill designed to abolish an independent board responsible for curbing Medicare spending growth and restricting medical-malpractice lawsuits.
An amendment was added on the House floor that would end the current exemption from antitrust laws that health insurance companies currently enjoy.
The measure would scrap the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which was created by the 2010 healthcare reform law and is charged with making cost-cutting recommendations if Medicare spending exceeds target growth rates.
House Republicans argued that IPAB, composed of an unelected body of experts appointed by the president, would infringe on congressional authority. Also included in the bill is language overhauling the current tort system which supporters claim encourages providers to practice defensive healthcare.
During a House debate on the bill, an amendment similar to the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act was added. Legislation related to this provision passed the House in the last session but was never considered on the Senate floor. Ending this decades-old exemption has been a legislative goal of the ACA for many years.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where support is considered tenuous, at best. The White House issued a veto threat Tuesday to protect IPAB from being dismantled, with the statement of administration policy also citing “serious concerns” about the medical malpractice provisions, specifically about the caps for awards.
Source: American Chiropractic Association, acatoday.org