HR Policy Urges Congress to Go Beyond "Limited and Insufficient" Malpractice Reforms in PPACA

February 25, 2011

This week, HR Policy Association sent a letter to House members strongly supporting a bill that would set federal standards and limits on medical malpractice lawsuits.  Pointing out that the provisions regarding medical malpractice in the recent health care law were "limited and insufficient," the letter called for "stronger measures" to help "control the trend of upward spiraling health care costs."  The Help, Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act (HEALTH Act; H.R. 5) would:

  • Limit awards for non-economic damages to $250,000;
  • Cap punitive damages at the greater of two times the economic damages or $250,000;
  • Limit attorneys' fees to ensure that more of the compensation goes to the injured patient; and
  • Establish a rule that each medical provider is only responsible for the proportional share of damages caused by his or her negligence.  
The letter states: “High medical malpractice insurance premiums have led to shortages of certain medical specialists in some states. In addition, fear of medical malpractice suits has led some medical providers to practice defensive medicine by over-utilizing diagnostic tests and procedures, which further drives up health care costs.”  The HEALTH Act was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee last week, and supporters hope that the full House will pass the bill this year.