Federal Medical Liability Reform Legislation Passes the U.S. House of Representatives

On June 28, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215), the first comprehensive medical liability reform legislation to be passed by either chamber of Congress in more than five years. (https://tinyurl.com/ya9sn6h2) The bill passed 218-210.

H.R. 1215 ensures fair and timely compensation to injured patients, improves access to patient care, and promotes affordable and accessible medical liability insurance coverage to providers. Specific provisions include unlimited compensation for economic losses, caps on subjective non-economic damages, limits on attorney contingency fees, periodic payment of future damages, and a statute of limitations.

Unlike previous federal bills introduced, H.R. 1215 is focused solely on health care professionals and entities, includes more flexibility for states, and applies only to medical liability claims involving care provided through the expenditure of federal dollars, including federal tax benefits.

A companion bill will be introduced in the U.S. Senate to improve H.R. 1215. For example, reform will apply to all medical liability claims, regardless of whether the care is provided through the expenditure of federal dollars. Medical liability reform faces significant challenges in the U.S. Senate, given that not all Republicans support reform through federal edict.

We will continue to engage our lobbying efforts and work in close collaboration with PIAA, our national trade association, to promote national comprehensive medical liability reform.