Act NOW for Medical Liability Reform – New Federal Bill Introduced

Our grassroots network has been activated to generate support for the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215), a new federal bill introduced last Friday that is based on proven state medical liability reforms and which will tackle health care costs that are rising as a result of a broken system.

The Protecting Access to Care Act, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), includes well-known, traditional reforms that ensure full and unlimited recovery of economic damages, allowing for payment of past and future medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other out of pocket expenses.  The legislation also permits the additional recovery of up to $250,000 for non-economic damages, such as damages awarded for pain and suffering.

The bill will be considered by the House Judiciary Committee TOMORROW (Tuesday). Click here to get contact information for committee members and express your support of this critical legislation.

The Protecting Access to Care Act also includes a reasonable statute of limitations for filing lawsuits and limits attorney fees, allowing for speedier resolution of claims, and ensuring that damage awards go to deserving patients – not personal injury lawyers. It also protects states’ rights by preserving their existing or future liability reforms.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the comprehensive medical liability reforms included in the Protecting Access to Care Act would lead to cost savings of $55 billion over the 2017-2026 period for federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and reduce our national deficit by almost $62 billion over the same 10-year period.

“I am encouraged by the fact that Congress has made comprehensive medical liability reform a priority this year, with a focus on increasing access to care and reining in sky-high federal health care spending,” said HCLA Chair Mike Stinson. “The HCLA will continue to work towards a bipartisan solution to fixing our broken medical liability system that reduces medical lawsuit abuse and provides a path for deserving patients to be compensated quickly and fairly.”

Click here to read more about the bill, and here to contact members of the House Judiciary Committee representing your district to express your support before Tuesday’s markup.

Integrity of Expert Testimony in Jeopardy

Oral arguments were made in the Washington State Supreme Court this month in a case that could jeopardize the integrity of expert witness testimony by allowing non-physician practitioners to testify in liability cases.

Under consideration is whether or not an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) is qualified to testify about medical causation.

The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association, joining together with several other state medical societies, filed an amicus brief that states only a physician will have the appropriate diagnostic training and clinical experience necessary to “opine whether a physician’s breach of the standard of care has caused the medical injury in question.”

The brief explains that a family practice physician receives almost twice the amount of general education and over three times the amount of clinical experience obtained by an ARNP.

The court, in light of these differences in education and training, should limit the ability to testify regarding causation of an injury arising from a physician’s alleged breach of the standard of care to another physician, the brief says.

To read more about the AMA’s activity in support of maintaining limits on the scope of liability testimony, click here.

Familiar Foes Oppose Liability Reform in Iowa

No sooner than medical liability reform legislation was introduced in Iowa, the familiar foes – personal injury lawyers – came out in full force against a measure that would protect patients, but leave attorneys with fewer opportunities for jackpot justice.

Companion bills were introduced earlier this month in both the state House and Senate, and hearings began on how to improve Iowa’s medical liability climate and expand access to care.

That led to a rapid response from personal injury attorneys, through radio ads, media interviews, and a large presence of people at the state capitol alleging negligent activity by physicians.

Key components of the bill include a reasonable $250,000 limit on non-economic damages, strengthened expert witness standards, requirements for a certificate of merit, affirmative defense for evidence-based medicine, limitations on contingency fee arrangements, and an expansion of Candor – an opportunity for physicians to express apologies and sympathies without it being used against them in a liability lawsuit.

According to the Iowa Medical Society, the comprehensive medical liability reforms “represent the most comprehensive reforms to Iowa’s medical liability system in more than a generation and mark the culmination of years of work by numerous physician leaders throughout our state.”

To read more about the introduction of medical liability reforms and the opportunities to reduce medical lawsuit abuse in Iowa, click here.