Following the Jan. 19th vote to repeal the national health reform law, House Republicans introduced a new piece of medical liability reform legislation that would cap medical malpractice damage awards for those injured. According to reports, "The Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Health Care Act of 2011 would limit noneconomic damages to $250,000, and punitive damages to the greater of $250,000 or twice the amount of economic damages." Despite the American Medical Association and 100 other medical organizations support of this bill, not everyone is convinced that this bill will be good for the general public.
Recently, the president of the American Association for Justice publically expressed that this bill is "beyond extreme" due to the scope of its damage caps. "By removing legal accountability, attention to safety will go down and more people will suffer injuries and death from negligent care," he expressed.
In addition to limiting the amount of damages for those injured by hospital negligence, the HEALTH Act also would "set a statute of limitations on filing health care lawsuits of one year after a patient discovers -- or should have discovered -- an injury, or three years after the injury, whichever occurs first. The bill is modeled on liability reforms that have been on the books in California since 1975. The House has adopted previous versions of the measure numerous times during the past decade, but the Senate has never followed suit."
The bill was sponsored by a Republican House Representative from Georgia, who is also an obstetrician-gynecologist, as a replacement for the health reform law because he claims it will save billions of taxpayer dollars by reducing defensive medicine.
Source: American Medical News "House shifts to medical liability overhaul after health reform vote" 1/31/2011