The Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, Bill – H.R. 1215 was introduced by the House of Representatives on February 24th, 2017 and amended on March 22nd, 2017. It’s title and intentions could not be further apart from each other!
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease. I wrote about this in a previous blog post, the numbers are quite shocking. Ten percent of all U.S. deaths are due to medical error according to Johns Hopkins patient safety experts. No one can afford to turn a blind eye to the issue.
This leads us to The Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, H.R. 1215. What does this House Bill really mean for you and for me? And how does this bill support us when we consider the increased chances of encountering some sort of medical error throughout the many medical treatments that most likely await us throughout our lifetime?
The Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 in a Nutshell:
The stated intention of H.B. 1215 is “To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system.” However, what the bill includes to make these improvements are the following:
- In any health care lawsuit, the amount of noneconomic damages, if available, shall not exceed $250,000, regardless of the number of parties against whom the action is brought or the number of separate claims or actions brought with respect to the same injury. Juries may not be informed of this limitation. This may not be overruled by any state law.
- A health care provider who prescribes, or dispenses pursuant to a prescription, a medical product approved by the Food and Drug Administration may not be a party to a product liability lawsuit or a class action lawsuit regarding the medical product.
These two clauses are designed to protect the medical professionals and the pharmaceutical corporations. Where is the protection for the patient?
What Does This Really Mean?
As an example, if you were to sustain a serious injury from a medical malpractice incident, or if you have suffered a disabling injury due to a defective drug, you might very well (and rightfully so) file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for financial compensation for your injuries.
This is where the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 comes in to play. It seeks to eliminate class actions for healthcare-related lawsuits; it makes all healthcare claims federal cases, bypassing state laws, and in cases where the plaintiff wins the case, the insurance company can pay the settlement or verdict in installments rather than in a lump sum payment.
It also places the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages regardless of the number of claims or actions being filed for the same injury. This cap could be devastating especially in the case of a misdiagnosis that could lead to a lifelong, unexpected, traumatic situation, such as paralysis, that would take much greater compensation to accommodate.
The introduced law limits the power you have as a consumer who has been mistreated. It shields the person you entrusted with your body and your health from liability.
It is evident that the bill has very little to do with improving access to health care services. In fact, it is difficult to find how this relates at all. The bill leads one to believe that it is improving the access to healthcare by changing the way injury claims are handled. Truly, what the bill is doing is protecting the medical professionals from being sued for malpractice; which does nothing to help address the third leading cause of death in America: medical error.
H.B. 1215- Who is it Helping?
The Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 isn’t truly helping the healthcare consumers like you and me. It simply protects negligent doctors, negligent hospitals and negligent medical providers from being held fully liable for the harms they have caused, or will cause, and it will be at the expense of those they have harmed.
When medical errors are killing over 250,000 people a year, can we really let our medical professionals off the hook? We should be focusing on solutions that address issues in the health care industry not protecting those who continue ignore this problem. H.B. 1215 is NOT a bill for medical consumers like you and me.
If you have become victim to medical malpractice or have any questions or concerns, please contact a medical malpractice expert and David & Philpot today for a no cost consultation. David & Philpot, P.L. has been representing personal injury claims for over 20 years. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients and are here to help you. Contact us today at 800.360.7015 for a free consultation.