June 2014 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now

Volume 9, Issue 6

June 2014 Newsletter




Special points of interest:

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Protect Doctor-Patient Relationship

Fans of Sports Medicine Liability Bill Join Together

Friends and Foes of Reform Gear up for California Liability Ballot Measure

Legal Brief

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Protect Doctor-Patient Relationship

A bipartisan bill widely advocated for in Congress in recent years has again been re-introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) to preserve access to care and ensure patients and their providers are not subject to a “one size fits all” treatment plan.

HR 4750, the Standard of Care Protection Act, would ensure that laws regarding federal health care programs are not used, outside their intended purpose, to create new standards of care for medical liability lawsuits. The version introduced this month reflects the language that was put into the SGR fix bills that were approved by the leadership of the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means and House Energy & Commerce Committees earlier this year.

Unintentionally, the quality measures and payment methodologies contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have the potential for expanding the risk of lawsuits against medical providers–despite the fact that these guidelines were never intended to measure negligence.

The HCLA supports legislative language included in the new Standard of Care Protection Act that states, “The development, recognition, or implementation of any guideline or other standard under any Federal health care provision shall not be construed to establish the standard of care or duty of care owed by a health care provider to a patient in any medical malpractice case.”

Health care providers must remain free to treat patients according to their specific needs, without the fear of being sued. To read the full Standard of Care Protection Act, which has been referred to the House Committees on Energy & Commerce and the Judiciary, click here.

Fans of Sports Medicine Liability Bill Join Together

Several professional medical provider trade associations have formed an informal coalition to coordinate advocacy activities in support of HR 3722/S 2220, the “Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act,” legislation that would provide liability protection to sports team physicians and athletic trainers who travel with athletes and sports teams across state lines to provide care during sporting events.

The coalition is currently working to garner support for these bills from Members of Congress on the committees of jurisdiction in each chamber, which will be critical to move the bills forward in the future.

The American Association of Justice, PIAA (which represent medical professional liability insurers), and the Federation of State Medical Boards have all confirmed that they are not opposed to this legislation, a positive first step in ensuring that the legislation will not face steep opposition going forward.

To read the text of HR 3722/S 2220 in full, click here.

Friends and Foes of Reform Gear up for California Liability Ballot Measure

Following the qualification of a ballot initiative aimed at repealing California’s landmark MICRA law (but hidden under the guise of drug-testing for physicians) foes of liability reform have begun advocating for grassroots support of a position that would lead to rising health care costs and limited access to critical care and health services for patients throughout the state.

Most recently, a letter to California Democrats by Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Nancy Pelosi urges support of the initiative as the California Democratic Party considers giving its endorsement to the ballot measure.

While they put forth their support on the pretext of patient safety, friends of liability reform understand that the ballot measure will only further increase health care costs and lawsuit abuse – limiting access to care and a timely resolution of lawsuits for deserving patients.

Click here to read the letter penned by Senator Boxer and Representative Pelosi, and stay tuned to future Protect Patients Now alerts and updates on the California ballot initiative.

Legal Brief

The Nevada Supreme Court has clarified the state’s three year statute of limitations in medical liability cases, with the intention of reducing medical lawsuit abuse and allowing for a more timely resolution of cases for deserving patients.

As noted by PIAA, the ruling states that “the three-year limitation period to bring actions for injury or death against healthcare providers begins to run once there is injury from which appreciable harm manifests.”

Nevada remains favorable for physicians to practice and provide care for patients throughout the state, particularly in the vast rural areas, and this recent ruling will make it more difficult for personal injury attorneys to file meritless lawsuits and drive up health care costs across the board. You can click here to read the ruling by the Nevada State Supreme Court.