House of Representatives Passes Protecting Access to Care Act

Published September 21, 2017

By Violette Bishai

In a 218-210 vote, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Access to Care Act. This bill limits plaintiff damages in malpractice lawsuits to $250,000. Should this bill become a law, it would also implement limits on attorney fees and establish a three-year statute of limitations. This would apply to lawsuits in healthcare that include coverage through federal programs i.e. Medicare or Medicaid. This would not only apply to cases involving medical malpractice but also those involving nursing home abuse, neglect and unsafe drugs.

In Support

By 2027, a Congressional Budget Office score of this bill projects that it would reduce deficits by $50 billion. In support of this bill, legislators stated that this would reduce healthcare costs, limiting unnecessary procedures and examinations since providers would be faced with less pressure form the potential of malpractice suits. Representative Steve King specified that this bill would only apply to civil cases, as health care spending has only continued to grow along with these out-of-fear tests.

In Opposition

Critics of this bill argued that it has the potential increase medical mistakes, shielding negligent doctors from liability. That it would also wrongly impact the compensation of plaintiffs who file a healthcare lawsuit.

House leaders received letters from 80 organizations including consumer, labor, legal and public interest groups, in opposition of the bill.  They expressed that its provisions would eventually lead to a ‘broad relaxation of care,’ thus more deaths and injuries, and the money that is projected to be saved in premiums, will instead be spent on increased health care costs. They urge instead that congress focus reducing the amount of deaths and improving patient safety

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