WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today issued the following statement on the House passage of H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act:
“In the months leading up to the passage of the 2010 health care law, and the years following its inception, Congress has spent countless hours debating the best manner to increase Americans’ access to healthcare and reduce its cost. Unfortunately, the law enacted two years ago was the wrong direction for our country because controversial policies included in the measure will ultimately limit access and allow costs to continuing rising.
“First and foremost, the PATH Act repeals the unpopular Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), whose very purpose is to save money by restricting access to healthcare for Medicare beneficiaries. Through IPAB, healthcare “savings” will be achieved by ratcheting down payments to providers, who are already under-paid by Medicare. Unquestionably, this will compel doctors to deny or delay care for Medicare beneficiaries. Composed of 15 unelected bureaucrats, IPAB will wield enormous power with no accountability or oversight. From its conceptualization, IPAB was fatally-flawed. Its necessary repeal will help ensure Americans on Medicare continue to receive the best possible care.
“In addition to repealing provisions that restrict access, the PATH Act will also help reduce the cost of healthcare by reforming our medical liability system. Across the country, American doctors are practicing defensive medicine for fear of facing frivolous lawsuits. This not only drives up health care costs, but creates serious doctor recruitment and retention problems, especially in high risk disciplines such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, emergency medicine, and obstetrics.
“While the medical liability crisis affects every region of the country, it has had serious consequences for the residents of the 15th District and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Although our state is one of the nation’s premier medical training locations, we struggle to keep talented doctors in our communities due to a high level of litigation. Appropriately, H.R. 5 does nothing to prevent a litigant from seeking his or her day in court, contains no cap on economic damages (medical bills and lost wages) and apportions liability based on the degree of negligence exhibited by the parties. I am confident these provisions will encourage the brightest young doctors to practice in Pennsylvania following their training and entice experienced doctors to return to our state.
“I was especially pleased that during consideration of H.R. 5, the House passed my amendment to address the growing shortage of physicians and specialists willing to work in emergency rooms by extending liability coverage to trauma professionals. These professionals are required to make quick and sometimes risky decisions based on minimal information, exposing them to an increased likelihood of litigation. The enhanced liability coverage provided by my amendment to on-call and emergency physicians will ensure critical, timely and life-saving emergency and trauma care is available to Americans when and where it is needed most.
“When hastily pushing the 2012 healthcare law through Congress, President Obama and his allies vowed it would lower health care costs, expand access to care, and allow those who enjoy their coverage to keep it. As Americans learn more about how the law will impact their lives, they’re discovering those promises were broken. The PATH Act is an important step in not only remedying the numerous problems of the healthcare law, but actually achieving its promised goals of greater healthcare access and affordability.”