Medical Malpractice Debate Opens with Proposed House Bill


Both sides of the medical malpractice tort reform debate are out in full-force lobbying Congress concerning a House GOP bill which aims to cap pain, suffering and all non-economic damages in a medical malpractice suit. The bill also lays out more limitations in malpractice suits involving care provided or funded by the federal branch of government.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa authored the bill called The Protecting Access Care Act of 2017. It creates a three-year statute of limitations after the damage is done, or one-year after the injured party discovers the damage, whichever occurs first. While it limits non-economic damages to $250,000, it does not preempt caps established by states. There are also limitations on plaintiff attorney contingency fees and other provisions.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi received word from over 80 advocacy groups against the bill referred to H.R.1215, stating it removes the rights of patients who are injured in malpractice cases, elder abuse cases, prescription of dangerous drug negligence, and defective medical devices. They further claim that even if only applied to medical care facilities and staff, studies show its provisions would cause more injury and death due to the wide loosening of care. The letter written by the advocacy groups cited a 2003 Consumer Watchdog study that disputes the idea that California’s malpractice cap is the primary reason behind the premiums for doctors being lowered. They go on to write that trial lawyers lobby for the bill in order to raise their fees.

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