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Monday, January 24, 2011

U.S. HOUSE MOVES PAST REPEAL AND INTO REPLACE

The new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives took the symbolic act of voting 245-189 to repeal the new health reform law. All of the Texas Republicans in the House voted for repeal and all of the Texas Democrats voted against it. I say “symbolic” because the repeal bill has no chance of moving in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But House leaders are now looking into ways they can improve on or replace some of the serious shortcomings in the new law. I met on Capitol Hill with two senior Texas congressmen to discuss some of their plans:

  • Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) and I reviewed his HR 5, which calls for California- and Texas-style medical liability reform with a rock-solid preemption clause that says stronger state tort laws prevail over any federal legislation. As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Smith is in a great position to move this bill.
  • Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), and I talked with Lee Spangler, TMA vice president, Medical Economics, to review some of the key changes we need in the new law. These include replacing the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula and reining in or eliminating the Independent Payment Advisory Board; ensuring physicians and Medicare patients the right to contract privately for services; and repealing the Stark restrictions on physicians’ rights to own hospitals. The American Medical Association has developed a good list of needed changes.

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