Healthcare Business News

IPAB, med mal could see Senate vote this week

By Rich Daly
Posted: March 27, 2012 - 3:15 pm ET

A combined measure to establish federal malpractice caps and repeal a controversial Medicare cost control board could come up for a Senate vote as early as this week.

The measure, which passed the House of Representatives last week, was formally placed on the Senate's legislative calendar, although no specific date for a vote has been set.

Senate observers did not expect the measure to receive a Senate vote because the chamber's Democratic leadership is strongly opposed to both of its main components. The bill's supporters were optimistic it could garner the support of moderate Democrats during an election year because of the unpopularity of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

The healthcare law "is going to result in a contraction, a shrinking of individual freedom in making healthcare choices and instead a 15-member unelected board of bureaucrats are going to decide whether your medical care is worth it or whether the federal government will simply choose not to pay for it because of the cost-benefit analysis of those bureaucrats," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said at a Tuesday news conference.

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However, not all Republicans have pushed for a Senate vote on the Medicare board.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) co-authored a Washington Times editorial this month that criticized the effort to repeal the payment board, saying Republicans should focus on repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

"IPAB is not distinct from Obamacare; it's an inextricable part of the whole," they wrote. "As such, it should be repealed as part of the whole."

Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a chief architect of the healthcare law, said he welcomed the IPAB repeal vote.

"It's not going to be repealed so it is a good issue," Baucus said in an interview.

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