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As part of the GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), House Republicans introduced a bill that would make medical malpractice lawsuits more difficult to win for those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA-subsidized health insurance. The bill H.R. 1215, designed to reduce frivolous claims, would apply to lawsuits related to hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, and defective medical products.
Those opposed say the bill would strip an already underserved population of their right to compensation for medical negligence. Republicans say the main goal of the ACA repeal is to reduce healthcare spending and save American tax payers money by putting caps on malpractice lawsuits.
“Defensive care” is the practice of medical care performed primarily to deter litigation, rather than benefit the patient. Doctors who practice defensive medicine tend to order tests and procedures that make them less susceptible to medical malpractice lawsuits, even if they are not the ideal course of care for the patient. Defensive care physicians may also avoid performing more risky procedures in effort to reduce their chance of being sued for medical malpractice. The bill would limit the number of “defensive” visits and tests doctors could order, significantly reducing healthcare spending.
In addition to instituting defensive care restrictions, the bill would introduce a cap on medical malpractice awards. The bill proposes a $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages, which includes pain and suffering. Opponents have expressed concern that seniors would suffer most under this cap. The bill would limit significant settlements for cases of elderly abuse, especially in nursing homes. The bill would not cap compensation for lost wages and medical bills.
If passed, the bill would protect doctors who prescribe FDA-approved drugs from being named in product liability lawsuits against the drug manufacturer. It would also protect pharmacists filling FDA-approved drug prescriptions from product liability lawsuits. Workers receiving tax-free employer-provided health coverage would also be subject to medical malpractice claim restrictions.
Sentiment towards the bill among the medical industry is mixed. The American Medical Association, American Health Care Association, and the American Hospital Association all support the bill. The Advance Medical Technology Association, which represents medical device manufacturers, supports the reduction in health care spending that the bill could possibly effect, but has concerns about releasing doctors from liability in defective product lawsuits.
Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. closely follow the ongoing changes in health care legislation. We help clients understand their rights under the law as a victim of medical negligence or carelessness. Contact a skilled Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyer at our Cherry Hill, New Jersey office at 856-354-9444 or contact us online to discuss your case. We also have offices in Philadelphia and King of Prussia to assist Pennsylvania residents.