There is currently a bill in Congress (HR1215 – Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017) put forth by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (Chairman, House Judiciary Committee) that would significantly limit the rights of patients who have been injured by a nursing home, drug manufacturer, medical device company, hospital, or doctor. Nationally, medical errors are the third leading cause of death. Despite this fact, and the need for good care, the bill provides financial protection for large companies and providers, at the expense of victims and injured parties.
If passed the bill would:
- Limit what patients can claim for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical deformity, etc., to $250,000.
- Reduce what patients can claim as economic damages by allowing evidence of what was paid by insurance without requiring the wrongdoer to repay the victim for premiums paid.
- Allow the federal government to regulate the rights of victims of malpractice throughout the United States.
- Limit the rights of victims without any corresponding limits on doctors, nursing homes, drug makers, or hospitals.
- Allow wrongdoers to hold onto parts of the money awarded to the victim of malpractice even after a jury decides against them.
- Make it riskier and more difficult for attorneys to prosecute malpractice claims through severe restrictions on contingent fees.
The argument for the bill (which is a real stretch) is that the cost of malpractice insurance is so high – doctors need to be protected. Of course, that argument shouldn’t apply to nursing homes and drug makers, so it is clear the purpose of the bill is to benefit corporations, hurt victims, hurt trial lawyers and push egregious federal tort reform much more draconian than states would ever consider. Further, a recent study by Johns Hopkins University refutes any argument that malpractice caps and limits on recoverable damages results in lower malpractice premiums for doctors.
We wanted to make you aware of the bill. It will likely be voted on the House Floor as early as next week – March 13. We anticipate a companion bill will be introduced in the Senate.
As this would hurt all of our clients and future clients, we ask you to speak out. If you feel compelled, please share this information with your family and friends through phone or letter.
Please talk about it on social media. We have a Facebook invitation and ask that you find our page, and share it as well: https://www.facebook.com/events/255319874920452/
We are also co-hosting a Town Hall at the Jefferson Center (Roanoke, Virginia) next Sunday, March 12 at 4pm – which will be an open Q/A for attorneys, press, lawmakers and injury victims to discuss the bill. Invitation attached.
If you believe in State’s rights – oppose HR1215.
If you believe in citizens having access to justice – oppose HR1215.
If you believe in smaller federal government – oppose HR1215.
If you worry this is step one to additional federal legislation to further deny injured patients access to justice – oppose HR1215.
Contact your Senator and House of Representative member now.