March 2017 Newsletter

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  • March 31, 2017


New Congress makes early efforts in support of medical liability reform

Just over a month after a new Congress and President were in position, medical liability reform appeared at the top of their agenda as two comprehensive bills were introduced.

In late February, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Protecting Access to Care Act, a comprehensive medical liability reform bill introduced by Representative Steve King (R-IA).

The Protecting Access to Care Act, H.R. 1215, is modeled after proven reforms already in place in Texas, California, and many other states around the country that have had a positive effect on increasing patient access to care and keeping health care costs affordable for patients and physicians.

More recently introduced is the ACCESS (Accessible Care by Curbing Excessive lawSuitS) Act, H.R. 1704, which adds to the gaining momentum for liability reform in the House.
President Trump has also expressed his support for medical liability reforms in his address to a Joint Session of Congress. “…We should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance,” President Trump stated.

“The HCLA is pleased that the House of Representatives and President Trump recognize the need for comprehensive federal medical liability reform, and have made a commitment to address this issue as a key priority in the 115th Congress,” said HCLA Chair Mike Stinson. “We will work to increase the momentum we achieved…so that we may implement vital changes to our medical liability system to keep patient care safe, affordable and accessible.”

Both bills await further consideration by the House, with opportunities in the near future for the Protect Patients Now grassroots network to take action with their members of Congress.

Better benefits: Access to care to improve for Iowans, with liability reform

Iowa is one step closer to reducing medical lawsuit abuse and making its liability system one that has better benefits for patients across the state.

Passing a bill containing reforms that are in line with those in neighboring states, the Iowa State Senate considered the implications of reforms on access to care and health care costs in spite of efforts by personal injury attorneys to scale back the bill’s most critical provisions.

Backed by the Iowa Medical Society, the bill would allow for unlimited recovery of lost wages, out of pocket costs, and medical bills for patients harmed by negligence.

“We agree that severely injured patients should have the ability to recover their loss in future wages and future health care costs related to their injury. This is why the bill does not seek to cap economic damages,” said Clare Kelly, executive director of the Iowa Medical Society.

The Iowa House will soon consider and vote on the legislation. To read more about efforts to reform Iowa’s liability system, click here.

West Virginia liability bill to reduce lawsuit abuse

Legislation making its way through the West Virginia legislature would strengthen statutes of limitation and ensure that liability cases are brought forth in the county where they occurred – key factors that will contribute to fewer meritless lawsuits.

Senate Bill 338 pertains to lawsuits brought forth against long-term care providers, and ensures that personal injury lawyers can’t target a county based on its liability climate if the incident in question occurred elsewhere in the state.

With attorneys at the negotiating table, Jane Peak, president of the West Virginia Association for Justice, acknowledged that the sponsor of the bill “brought key stakeholders to the table to put together this compromise version.”

“The changes made to the MPLA in Senate Bill 338 will strengthen our medical liability laws and ensure that West Virginians will have access to affordable health care,” said Roman Stauffer, Executive Director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. “It will prevent greedy personal injury lawyers from filing abusive lawsuits, which only increase the cost of health care for all West Virginians.”

To read more about how this pending bill in West Virginia will continue to keep care for the elderly and disabled affordable and accessible, click here.