Medical Liability Reform
The Alliance firmly believes that federal medical liability reform based on the California or Texas models, which include, among other things, reasonable limits on non-economic damages, is the gold standard. As outlined by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), medical liability reform would decrease total health care spending and reduce the federal deficit by approximately $56 billion over the next decade by reducing the incentives for defensive medicine and improving the litigation system. In addition to these savings, reforms will also improve patient access to specialty care, particularly in rural and underserved areas, by protecting physicians from unaffordable liability premiums.
The Alliance urges Congress to pass the “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011,” (H.R. 5/S. 1099). The Alliance supports the following medical liability reforms included in the HEALTH Act:
- Resolving claims quickly by setting a statute of limitations of three years after the date of manifestation of injury or one year after the claimant discovers the injury, with certain exceptions.
- Fully compensating patients for all medical and economic damages, while placing a reasonable $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages and making a defendant liable only for the percentage of damages that is equal to his or her share of responsibility for the injury.
- Maximizing the amount of award that goes to injured patients and discouraging frivolous lawsuits by implementing a sliding scale for the payment of attorney contingency fees.
- Eliminating double recovery by allowing the introduction of evidence of collateral source benefits paid and by prohibiting a provider of such benefits from recovering any amount from the injured patient’s lawsuit award.
- Awarding punitive damages when the injured patient receives compensatory damages and it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with malicious intent to injure the patient or deliberately failed to avoid unnecessary injury. Patients may recover the greater of two times the amount of economic damages or $250,000, but they may not receive punitive damages for products that comply with FDA standards.
- Ensuring payments are available when patients need them by providing for periodic payments of future damages.
Letter: Alliance to Congressman Phil Gingrey supporting the HEALTH Act
Surveys and Reports: CBO Report on Savings From Medical Liability Reforms