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The House medical liability reform bill comes in, unfrivolously

Two House membrs from Georgia and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee have introduced H.R. 5, Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act, that is, the HEALTH Act. The chief sponsor is Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), an OB-GYN doctor, and he's joined by Rep. David Scott (D-GA), and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Judiciary chairman.

State medical associations have endorsed the billbased on its provisions including:

  • A $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages;
  • A sliding scale cap on attorney fees;
  • Collateral source rule reform with a ban on subrogation;
  • Periodic payment of future damages; and,
  • A three year from incident/one year from discovery statute of limitations

Apropos Ted's comments about President Obama's SOU use of the elastic term, "frivolous lawsuits," we see Chairman Smith also regards them as a target for legislation. From the joint news release, "Gingrey, Smith, Scott Call on President to Support Medical Liability Reform":

Chairman Smith: "The medical profession is plagued by frivolous lawsuits that are nothing more than the legalized extortion of doctors and hospitals. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40% of malpractice suits filed in the U.S. are 'without merit.' These suits drive up the cost of health care for all Americans and drive many experienced medical professionals out of business.

"Medical malpractice reform is the best way to reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine. The HEALTH Act incorporates lawsuit abuse reforms that have proved effective in states at reducing costs and enhancing the quality of care by limiting frivolous lawsuits.

The American Association for Justice is aghastly appalled, angrily, issuing a statement, "AAJ: House Medical Liability Bill 'Beyond Extreme'.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.