The House Energy and Commerce Committee late Wednesday approved a measure aimed at lowering medical liability costs for healthcare providers through, in part, a cap on noneconomic damages.
Medical liability bill approved by House committee
The panel was the second to approve the bill, 30-20, following the House Judiciary Committee's approval of it in February.
The marquee provision of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), is a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damage awards. It also would establish a three-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, with certain exceptions, and replace joint-and-several liability with a rule that would limit defendants' liability to the percentage of the final award that equaled to their share of responsibility for the injury.
Republicans touted the measure as needed to control the fast-rising cost of healthcare. It would reduce federal healthcare spending by nearly $34 billion in the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and cut total healthcare spending by 0.4%.
The medical liability system in this country is not a system at all,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the committee, in a written statement. “It is a fragmented patchwork of policies that jeopardize access to care and impose added costs to the American people and their government, through Medicare and Medicaid. It is time to enact real, comprehensive reform so we can finally have a medical liability system that works for our nation's patients and doctors.”
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