E-news 3/23/12

The Week Just Past: Who Decides on Your Health Care?

Medical Liability Reform Advances

Noted with Alarm: The Record Debt is Growing

Congressional Insider Trading Ban Approved


The Week Just Past: Who Decides on Your Health Care?

“In a strong demonstration of bipartisanship, the House acted this week to repeal a dangerous rationing board created by passage of Obamacare two years ago. By approving H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare Act(PATH), the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is one step closer to extinction.

“There is bipartisan concern about this board and how it could harm Medicare. The IPAB will consist of a group of fifteen members who will decide what constitutes ‘necessary care’ for Medicare patients.

“We cannot allow a group of arbitrarily-appointed, unelected Washington-based bureaucrats to have the power to decide which medical procedures Medicare will pay for. In other words, they will have the power to ration health care. Most Americans would agree: it should be left to patients and their physicians to determine what care is to be provided and how to pay for it.

“Regardless of political party, our common goal should be to protect and preserve Medicare, not expand the scope and amount of the cuts the IPAB is tasked with, as President Obama has proposed in his budget. We need to repeal IPAB before it affects the care of our seniors.

“This ‘government knows best’ approach is why Americans across the country support repeal – and it is also why there is strong bipartisan support here in Congress to repeal IPAB.

“By the way, this week we marked the second anniversary of the enactment of the President’s health care law, which, in effect, represents a government takeover of one-sixth of U.S. economy.”

                        Rodney Frelinghuysen

Recommended Reading: The editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal discusses next week’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the President’s health care law. Read “Liberty and Obamacare” here.

Medical Liability Reform Advances

H.R. 5 also contained another key element - medical liability reform which would reduce Medicare spending in a way that does not ration care.  Rather, it would ensure access to care while reducing liability insurance and the practice of defensive medicine.

Specifically, the bill would place a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages; limit contingency fees lawyers can charge; place guidelines on punitive damages; provide a safe harbor from punitive damages for products that meet FDA safety requirements; and preserve all state laws that place higher or lower limits on any form of damages. 

According to estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 5 would reduce the deficit by $45.5 billion over the FY2013-2022 period—repealing IPAB would cost $3.1 billion, while the medical liability reform would save $48.6 billion (thus the additional savings from medical liability reform will go to deficit reduction).

Recommended Reading: Paige Winfield Cunningham of the Washington Times reports “At two-year mark, health law’s legacy is confusion.”

Recommended Reading: David Wessel writes in the Thursday Wall Street Journal, “Health-Care Law’s Many Unknown Side Effects.”

Noted with Alarm: The Record Debt is Growing

It’s official: the National Debt has now increased more during President Obama's three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency.

The debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.

The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush's last day in office. The National Debt also now exceeds 100% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services produced by our economy.

Recommended Reading:  Paul Whoriskey, writing in the Tuesday Washington Post, “Economists offer more pessimistic view on manufacturing in upcoming report.” It appears that much of the recent “happy talk” about the resurgence of American manufacturing may not be backed by reality.

Congressional Insider Trading Ban Approved

Following the lead of the House, the Senate yesterday gave final legislative approval to a common-sense bill to prevent insider trading by Members of Congress and thousands of executive branch officials. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act now goes to President Obama for his signature.

“The House passed a strong bill that will explicitly make it illegal for members of Congress, their staff and their families to gain personal profits from nonpublic information obtained through their service,” said Rodney, a cosponsor of the STOCK Act. 

“I am pleased the Senate has followed our lead. This is another step toward restoring some of the public’s faith in their Representatives and Senators.”

Recommended Reading: Chico Harlan and Craig Whitlock writing in the Washington Post, “Military Revising its Plans in Asia.”