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“Plan B” for Averting Fiscal Cliff Includes Medical Liability Reform
In an effort to avert the impending fiscal cliff before spending cuts and tax increases go into effect at year’s end, Speaker John Boehner has introduced a so-called “Plan B” for Congress to address this issue in the short term while negotiations continue.
Included in the legislation is H.R. 5, the HEALTH Act, a version of which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year.
As we know, the HEALTH Act enacts a $250,000 reasonable limit on noneconomic damages; ensures that attorneys’ fees are reasonable; creates a “fair share” rule, by which damages are allocated fairly, in direct proportion to fault; and provides a safe harbor from punitive damages for products that meet applicable FDA safety requirements.
The HEALTH Act and its medical liability reform provisions are appropriately included in the bill because of their impact on deficit reduction efforts. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the summary of the bill, the legal reforms contained in the HEALTH Act would reduce the federal budget deficit by an estimated $40 billion over the next ten years.
While a “Plan A” is needed to permanently address our deficit crisis, the HCLA and its membership applauds the Speaker for understanding that solving our medical liability crisis is an important component of deficit reduction efforts in the long term.
The bill was expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives on Thursday, December 20, but the vote was cancelled when Leadership could not assemble sufficient support for the entire package. We will continue to monitor the ongoing “fiscal cliff” negotiations and additional opportunities to push for a permanent solution to fix our broken medical liability crisis. For more information and a summary of the medical liability provisions of the “Plan B” bill, click here.
Michigan Legislature Makes Year-End Push for Liability Reform
As the year comes to a close, lawmakers in Michigan are putting medical liability reforms on their legislative agenda, with critical pieces of legislation already passing the state Senate and House.
A bill changing the way non-economic damages are calculated, as well as another creating a statute of limitations and protecting patients from excessive attorneys’ fees, now moves to the Governor’s desk to be signed before the legislative session draws to a close.
Spearheading the effort was state Senator Roger Kahn, a Michigan cardiologist who understands how our broken medical liability system is harming his patients and his constituents.
“By supporting reforms that protect Michigan seniors, children and families and empowering physicians to keep their eyes fixed on what is best for their patients, lawmakers stood up today for quality health care,” said Michigan State Medical Society President Dr. John Bizon.
Physician groups were able to work alongside personal injury attorneys during the legislative process to ensure the bills limited medical lawsuit abuse and allowed for fair compensation for deserving patients. For more information about the medical liability bills that are set to become law in the coming days, click here.
Happy Holidays from Protect Patients Now
With the holiday season upon us, Protect Patients Now wishes you and your family a healthy and happy New Year.
While medical liability reform saw forward movement in Washington, including passage by the House of Representatives, we will closely follow the debate in 2013 and push for the inclusion of medical liability reforms to strengthen our health care system, lower our national deficit, and increase patient access to quality medical care.
We thank you for your continued support and look forward to working with you in the New Year. Together, we can stop medical lawsuit abuse and Protect Patients Now.