PIAA Responds to Washington Post Article Critical of Its Involvement in Tort Legislation

On Aug 1 2017, The Washington Post published an article, “In Trump Era, Lobbyists Boldly Take Credit for Writing a Bill to Protect Their Industry,” which assailed PIAA — the insurance industry trade association that represents a range of entities doing business in the medical professional liability arena — for its involvement in drafting the Protecting Access to Care Act — a medical liability tort reform bill that would impose a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages — and rapidly shepherding it to passage in the House of Representatives with minimal input from the public or members of Congress, then “crow[ing] about the achievement.”

[Editor’s Note: Cunningham Group interviewed Congressman Steve King of Iowa, the bill’s sponsor. You can watch the full interview Healthcare Matters interview of Congressman Steve King.]

PIAA responded to the article in PIAA Newsbriefs, the association’s e-newsletter, dated Aug. 4. Following is the response:

“In a recent article, ‘In Trump era, lobbyists boldly take credit for writing a bill to protect their industry,’ The Washington Post deceptively misled its readers regarding medical liability reform legislation. Through the use of partial quotations and misapplied context, the article claims that lobbyists boasted about writing legislation that was blindly passed by Congress without sufficient review. This is simply not true.

“In fact, the bill in question is a modestly revised version of legislation bills that has been debated by Congress for more than 20 years. During that time, nearly identical legislation has been the subject of repeated Congressional hearings, markups, and floor debate. On 11 occasions prior to this year, those bills passed the House of Representatives. Far from being “rapidly shepherd[ed]” through Congress, this legislation may well be the most thoroughly vetted bill considered by Congress this year.

“Lobbyists’ role in ‘drafting’ the legislation was merely to provide proposed fixes meant to address specific concerns that had been raised about the bill by reform opponents in previous years, but The Post claimed, incorrectly, that lobbyists drafted “new” legislation. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the bill has remained unchanged from what has been so thoroughly debated in the past. The alterations recommended by stakeholders serve to narrow the scope of past bills and also provide more flexibility to the states.

“The alterations were made not to ‘protect their industry,’ but rather, to make the bill more acceptable to a broader array of concerned organizations. Recognizing that these changes were modest, and did not fundamentally alter the substance of the legislation Congress previously considered, legislators chose, after ample review, to include them in the new bill.

“When interested parties acknowledge that they were consulted about legislation of importance to them, they should be applauded for their transparency. They should not be falsely accused of “boasting” or attempting to undermine the integrity of our legislative system.

“Numerous states have already enacted medical liability reforms similar to the federal bill. These serve to increase access to care for patients, reduce meritless litigation, and lower healthcare costs. Passage of the medical liability reform bill by the House is in fact a prime example of our government working as it should: legislators consulting with their constituencies about proposed legislation, concerned stakeholders providing their feedback, and those concerns being appropriately considered and addressed. For The Washington Post to imply otherwise is disingenuous and is beneath the standards of responsible journalism.”

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