The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to limit non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases and impose new deadlines to file such cases.
The Protecting Access to Care Act limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 and imposes a three-year deadline to sue practitioners if the care was fully or partially funded by the federal government.
The bill passed 218-210, with no Democrats supporting it and 19 Republicans voting against the measure. It's part of Republicans' legislative strategy to lower healthcare costs.
Under the bill, providers who prescribe a Food and Drug Administration-approved drug or device cannot be sued for product liability claims.
The American Medical Association on Thursday praised the bill, saying medical liability laws have increased healthcare costs and slowed access to care.
"This legislation is an important step toward fixing that system—a step that reins in defensive medicine, reduces the growth of healthcare costs, and strikes the correct balance by promoting speedier resolutions of disputes—while maintaining an injured patient's access to just compensation," said AMA President Dr. David Barbe.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that spending would decline by $50 billion over 10 years either through fewer unnecessary tests, often called defensive medicine, or because providers could charge less because their malpractice premiums would be lower.