Advocacy News

March 8, 2017



Advocacy at the Annual Meeting

Bonefied News

Protecting Access to Care Act Moves Forward

Trump Talks Health Care in Speech to Congress

Sen. Barrasso Awarded 2017 Dr. Nathan Davis Award

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Focuses on User Fee Programs

State Corner: Success in Puerto Rico

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Protecting Access to Care Act Moves Forward

On February 28, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215) by a vote of 18-17. The Protecting Access to Care Act reforms medical litigation laws in order to reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine, and save taxpayers billions of dollars while increasing access to healthcare. Introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA),  the Protecting Access to Care Act is modeled after proven reforms already in place in Texas, California, and many other states around the country that have had a positive effect on increasing access to care and keeping health care costs affordable for patients and physicians.

“Americans continue to be frustrated with the rising costs of healthcare, and look to their elected representatives in Washington to take action to counter the catastrophic effects of Obamacare,” stated committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). “The Protecting Access to Care Act will help keep the rising costs of healthcare from being passed along to the American people. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the reforms contained in the bill would lower health care costs by tens of billions of dollars.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), under the Protecting Access to Care Act, premiums for medical malpractice insurance ultimately would be an average of 25% to 30% below what they would be under current law. CBO also estimates that reforms included in the Protecting Access to Care Act would lead to cost savings of $55 billion over the 2017-2026 period for federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and reduce our national deficit by almost $62 billion over the same 10-year period. Further, the bill ensures full and unlimited recovery of economic damages in cases of medical negligence, allowing for payment of past and future medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses. The legislation permits additional recovery of up to $250,000 for non-economic damages, such as damages awarded for pain and suffering. It also protects states’ rights by preserving their existing or future liability reforms.

“This legislation adopts many of the reforms which have been thoroughly tested in the states and which have proven successful in improving the medical liability climate in those states,” stated AAOS and others in a support letter. “At the same time, it protects those states that have enacted effective reforms, and provides substantial flexibility to adopt variations of these reforms in order to meet their unique circumstances. Federal medical liability reforms will return fairness and equity to our medical liability system for patients and providers alike.”

The bill is expected to be considered by the full House Judiciary Committee soon.