New Med Mal Reform Bill to Face the House
Side Note: The Energy and Commerce Committee recently put forth a significant med mal reform bill to the US House of Representatives. The med mal bill, entitled, “HEALTH Act” (which stands for Help Efficient, Accessibly, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare), includes many reforms that we here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com are excited about. Most significantly, it includes a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. The interesting thing about the bill is that for states that already have non-economic damages caps, those caps would remain intact at their current rates. This savvy caveat is mixed news. Some states have lower caps, however, the many states that have higher medical malpractice limits would retain them. But, we are simply encouraged that all states would now have some kind of limit on med mal damage awards. Finally, physicians could universally have peace of mind knowing that if they were sued for med mal, their physician liability coverage would pay, at most, the amount of the cap. And, we think that caps like this could go a long way in helping to reduce med mal insurance rates for physicians in many states.
Regarding attorney contingency fees, the new bill also includes a sliding-scale fee schedule. And, the bill also limits punitive damages only to situations where the physician “…acted with malicious intent or deliberately failed to avoid injury.” These are two more nice features of the bill. See the full article for additional details of what is in the bill.
We here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com hope to see this bill pass. But as you’d guess, it has a tough road ahead. Many Democrats are expected to have problems with the bill. More than anything, we would like to see some kind of national-level consistency and predictability brought to the area of medical liability, even it is not via this bill. Whether a physician practices in California or Florida, he or she deserves to have the same set of med mal rules to play by and should be able to expect to pay similar med mal premiums if practicing in the same specialty. The dramatic and variable patchwork of medical liability laws and insurance rates in the US is troubling and has caused significant problems across the US –from physicians leaving certain states, to others not being able to get med mal insurance, to others risking their practices by choosing to go bare. We hope that there can be some serious reaching-across-the-aisle to get this done.
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Committee Sends Medical Professional Liability Reform Bill to Full House
May 13, 2011
The full U.S. House of Representatives is the next stop for a medical professional liability insurance bill advanced by the Energy and Commerce Committee.
After more than a day of debate, the full committee voted 30-20, primarily along party lines, in support of HR 5. The legislation, titled the HEALTH Act (Help Efficient, Accessibly, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare), includes a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, a ban on subrogation by collateral sources, a sliding-scale fee schedule for attorney contingency fees and periodic payments of future damages. The bill limits punitive damages to “instances where a person acted with malicious intent or deliberately failed to avoid injury,” according to a statement from the committee majority.