Authored By: Iris Garrett
A controversial bill that moved through Congress earlier this year has now been backed by the White House. According to the Huffington Post, the bill, H.R. 1215, and also called the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, would affect anyone who receives healthcare through a federal program, subsidy, or benefit (i.e. the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and veteran and service member health plans). However, HuffPost says H.R. 1215 would not only affect those in the above groups but punish them when they tried to seek compensation or accountability for medical claims in court. It says even in cases when an individual is harmed or sexually abused in an unsafe nursing home or hospital or harmed by an unsafe drug or medical device, they will be forced to take their claims to an inferior court.
H.R. 1215 has many provisions that would affect medical malpractice cases including a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. This will be implemented across the board even in states where the cap is found unconstitutional. HuffPost says other provisions of the bill consist of a federal mandate on the statute of limitations, a repeal of state collateral source rules and state joint and liability laws, a prohibition against severely-injured patients receiving a lump sum jury award, and federal interference in an individual’s right to contract with their attorney on fees. Another major provision of the bill is a ban on including nursing homes, hospitals or healthcare providers in any case against a drug maker over an unsafe drug, even if those institutions negligently prescribed the drug.
HuffPost says congressional Republicans proposed the bill, hoping to push government further out of healthcare. However, it says the legislation will only end up eliminating civil justice rights guaranteed to Americans by their state governments, as well as transfer power away from local juries and in the hands of those same Republicans to decide the outcome of cases. Back in February, the American Bar Association (ABA) spoke out against H.R. 1215 primarily for this reason. It said that the proposed legislation would drastically change aspects of the legal system that have been in place for more than 200 years. You can read the full letter here.
Despite the ABA’s objection to the bill, the White House recently announced its support saying H.R. 1215 would lower the cost of healthcare. In a press statement, the White House said current healthcare laws encourage providers to practice defensive medicine, increase costs, and impose a significant burden on those providers. Because of that, it encourages Congress to enact more reform bills like it and says if H.R. 1215 is presented to the President, senior advisors would recommend it be signed into law.
To read the entire Huffington Post article, click here.
Photo Credit: Mesut Dogan