WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, on Thursday blamed Republican leaders for politicizing an otherwise bipartisan effort to fix part of President Barack Obama's 2010 health law.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, on Thursday blamed Republican leaders for politicizing an otherwise bipartisan effort to fix part of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health law.
The House voted, 223-181, on largely party lines to pass legislation repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board that could be called on to cut Medicare costs in the future.
Ross, who had co-sponsored legislation to do away with the Board earlier this month, voted with 170 Democrats in opposition.
It wasn’t him that changed, but the bill, Ross said.
“Today, the Republican leadership politicized an otherwise bipartisan attempt to address major issues with the Affordable Care Act. As a result, I was denied a simple up-or-down vote,” Ross said.
The House bill voted on Thursday included a tort reform measure, which Ross said would limit states’ rights and supersede Arkansas’ medical malpractice guidelines.
“People are tired of these types of legislative tactics,” Ross said. “They want each bill to stand on its own merits, not be joined together with unrelated legislation in back room deals.”
Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted for repeal. They had also co-sponsored the original bill.
Womack said he voted for repeal because “the government has no business interceding in the doctor-patient relationship.”
Griffin said the 15-member panel was designed to cut care in order to contain Medicare costs.
“That’s rationing – not reform,” he said.
Griffin said he also favored the tort reforms that would cap non-economic damages at $250,000 in medical malpractice suits. Health care costs have gone up in part, Griffin said, because physicians order unnecessary tests and medicines as a shield against such suits.
The House bill stands no realistic chance of advancing this year through the Democrat-controlled Senate. The White House, meanwhile, has threatened a veto.
The vote, however, gave both political parties additional ammunition for this fall’s general elections. It also comes just ahead of next week’s Supreme Court deliberations on the constitutionality of the 2010 reform law. Oral arguments will be held over three days starting Monday.