A bipartisan group in the House of Representatives is trying once again to get a bill through Congress that seeks to reform the medical liability system by placing caps on pain-and-suffering damages.
This is the fifth time in less than five years that the House has voted to approve the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare, or HEALTH, Act, said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), chief sponsor of the bill, at a news conference.
The legislation sets a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages and limits the number of years a plaintiff has to file a healthcare liability action to ensure that claims are brought while witnesses are still available and before evidence is destroyed. The provisions are modeled after a tort reform law in California, which has benefited from stable medical malpractice premiums, Gingrey said. Texas, which approved a similar law, has seen an increase in subspecialists and a reduction in the cost of medical malpractice premiums, affirming that tort reform does work, he added.
The bill has the support of 51 physician groups. Bipartisan bills introduced in the House and Senate several weeks ago took another approach to resolving the medical liability crisis: awarding grants to states to pilot health courts and other solutions. I wouldnt be opposed to this option, Gingrey said. -- by Jennifer Lubell