Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill which sets a cap on medical malpractice lawsuits by limiting plaintiff noneconomic damages to $250,000. The “Protecting Access to Care Act” was passed by a vote count of 218-210.
If the bill were to become law, it would also enforce other limits regarding attorney fees and implement a three-year statute of limitations. The bill would apply to healthcare lawsuits which involve coverage provided through a federal program (e.g. Medicare and Medicaid) or to coverage that is partially paid for by a government subsidy or tax benefit.
While legislation supporters claim that it would limit unnecessary medical tests and procedures and reduce costs of healthcare, critics said it could improperly limit the compensation of plaintiffs who file a healthcare-related lawsuit and increase medical mistakes. For months, Republicans have been working on three phases to make changes to the healthcare system by repealing and replacing parts of Obamacare.
The three phases include:
- Reconciliation bill negotiations in the Senate
- Administrative changes to rules which the Department of Health and Human Services can make
- Other pieces of legislation, including a bill that would eradicate antitrust protection for insurers and one allowing small businesses to provide coverage to employees
Prior to the passing of the bill, 80 organizations sent a letter to House leaders, urging them to oppose the bill. Despite the fact that the bill only applied to doctors and hospitals, they state that recent studies suggest that its provisions would result in more deaths and injuries, as well as increased healthcare costs due to a “broad relaxation of care.”