HR 5 – LImiting Patient Rights in Medical Malpractice Cases – Passes U.S. House

The Republican dominated House of Representatives has passed HR 5, a tort reform bill designed to make it more difficult for patients to pursue medical malpractice cases. 

The bill passed 223-181.   Ten Republicans voted against the legislation, and 7 Democrats crossed over to support the Republicans.  Four Republicans voted "present."

The legislation combines two AMA-supported bills: the “Medicare Decisions Accountability Act” (HR 452), and the “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act” (also HR 5). The legislation contains a wide range of AMA-supported medical liability reforms, including a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, punitive damage reforms, and more.

Several amendments were added on the legislation, including the following:

  • One amendment extends antitrust laws to the business of health insurance by amending the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
  • One amendment extends liability coverage to on-call and emergency room physicians under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
  • One amendment grants civil liability protection to health professionals that volunteer at federally declared disaster sites, and was accepted by a vote of 251 to 157.

Hopefully, Senate Democrats will block the legislation from becoming law.