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In spite of heavy hitters such as the American Bar Association lobbying against it (see previous blog), the House Energy and Commerce Committee late last Wednesday approved a measure aimed at lowering medical liability costs for healthcare providers through, in part, a cap on noneconomic damages. The panel was the second to approve the bill, 30-20, following the House Judiciary Committee’s approval of it in February.

Perhaps the most controversial 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. But the measure is, if passed, is expected to reduce total healthcare spending by only 0.4%.

4 Comments

  1. Gravatar for jc

    I strongly support caps on pain & suffering.(P&S)and I feel there should be no P&S. P & S is very subjective. What one person sees as a minor annoyance another sees as debilitating pain. The underlying issue with P&S is that it is used like punitive damages against docs who have worked all their lives and maybe made one mistake. Should we force these docs to give up a life time of earnings because they made a mistake? The docs are by and large not criminals. If docs do commit a egregious mistake they can be subjected to punitive damages. There are no P&S damages with Worker's Comp. Why should the same injury caused by a doc get P&S?

  2. Gravatar for jc

    I think replacing joint and several liability makes a lot of sense. Why should a doc who is 10% responsible for the patients malpractice be stuck with the whole award? Limit the docs liability to his responsibility, that is the fair way to do things.

  3. Gravatar for Jim O'Hare RPLU AIC IAS
    Jim O'Hare RPLU AIC IAS

    The tort feasor should pay , not the doc with the money. Wouldnt that be the definition of fair?

    I am a med mal claims guy since 1985. Pain is subjective and 250k may be light. What kind of pain is worth $52,000 dollars? Cant come up with any? Thats the reason we need a cap for this one subjective count among the objective counts for damages.

    Caps are not being done for health care benfits, distant cousin to med mal at best. There is no scale or ruler to measure pain, so why use money. Thats all there is, the cap is a conscience.

    Health care- It is its own problem due to lack of competition. McCarron -Ferguson of 1945 needs to be repealed and it would save costs of maybe 100%.

    REgards

    Jim O'HAre RPLU AIC AIS

    Director of Claims

    MIC Austin Tx

  4. Gravatar for jc

    Jim: I would like to hear from a med mal executive like you. My colleagues in Ohio see a lot of frivolous lawsuits - -you know, bad result no negligence, no probable cause, no affidavit of merit, plaintiff med expert from Mars, etc. If we could eliminate half the frivolous cases do you think the savings would eventually be reflected in lower malpractice premiums?

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