June 14, 2017
Public Citizen Urges House Members to Vote Against Bill That Weakens Protections for Victims of Medical Wrongdoing, Puts Insurance Industry Profits Over Needs of Patients
Statement of Remington A. Gregg, Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Rights, Public Citizen
Update: The U.S. House of Representatives was expected to vote this week on H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, which would severely limit the ability of medical malpractice victims to seek justice in court. However, the vote has been postponed.
This bill is a giveaway to the insurance industry and would place profits over patients. It takes the unprecedented step of pre-empting a broad swath of state medical malpractice laws – an area that historically has been left to the states.
It would place an arbitrary cap on noneconomic damages in many states. It would shield not only doctors from liability due to medical wrongdoing, but also hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. What’s more, it would make it more difficult for victims to receive full compensation for their injuries. It’s no wonder that this bill is opposed by members of both parties.
If lawmakers really are concerned about the well-being of their constituents, they would address the epidemic of injuries and fatalities due to medical errors and ignore calls to limit providers’ accountability. Contrary to assertions by the corporate-backed GOP, medical liability costs are tiny in the scope of national health care costs and are declining (PDF).