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.