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%.