In June of this year, the House of Representatives voted on H.R. 1215, misnamed “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017.” This bill would severely limit the ability of injured patients and their families to hold health care providers accountable when they are injured due to medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, and defective drugs and medical devices. Obviously we are against any “tort reform” that would limit injured people’s ability to seek justice and compensation when they are injured. Tort reform refers to any proposed changes in the civil justice system that aims to reduce the ability of victims to bring tort litigation or to reduce damages they can receive.
H.R. 1215 seeks to cap non-economic damages to plaintiffs at $250,000. The bill would also establish a three-year statute of limitations, or one year after the injury is discovered, whichever occurs first. The theory of this bill is that health insurance costs will be lowered by capping medical malpractice lawsuits, but in reality it is impairing citizens’ abilities to seek compensation for their injuries while protecting health insurance companies.
H.R. 1215 passed by a narrow margin, 218 yeas and 210 nays. Every Democratic Representative voted nay along with 19 Republican members. This is the most Republican opposition to this bill, sending a clear message to the Senate that this bill is highly controversial, has zero bipartisan support, and is bad policy.