King’s Bill, the “Protecting Access to Care Act,” Passes the United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.- Congressman Steve King, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement today following passage of legislation he introduced, the “Protecting Access to Care Act,” by the House of Representatives. King’s legislation contains several important legal reforms, including a hard cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. King’s reforms are designed to lower skyrocketing health care costs, to reduce the practice of unnecessary “defensive medicine,” and to increase the supply of doctors, particularly those who practice medicine in high-risk specialties.
“H.R. 1215 is common sense litigation reform that will rein in overly aggressive health care lawsuits while preserving the ability of plaintiffs to recover unlimited economic damages.”
Congressman King’s full comments are available here.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that passage of King’s “Protecting Access to Care Act” would save federal taxpayers at least $50 billion over a ten year period. In addition, the CBO has estimated that King’s reforms would lower premiums for medical malpractice insurance by an average of 25% to 30%.
Importantly, the “Protecting Access to Care Act” continues to allow an injured party to receive full compensation for measurable, economic harm (such as medical expenses or lost wages) that they have incurred. The damage cap only applies to an award of non-economic damages (such as punitive damages) that are, by their very nature, speculative, subjective, and wildly inconsistent.
The “Protecting Access to Care Act” also allows courts to require periodic payments instead of lump sum damages, so that bankruptcies can be avoided and patients can be fully reimbursed. Additionally, the legislation contains a fair-share provision which allocates damages in proportion to fault.
Congressman King’s “Protecting Access to Care Act” is modelled on a successful medical malpractice law that has been in effect in California for over 40 years, and it contains provisions that were endorsed by President Ronald Reagan’s Tort Policy Working Group in 1986. The legislation has the support of the Trump Administration, which issued a Statement of Administration Policy on June 13 stating “if H.R. 1215 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law.”
King’s legislation, HR 1215, passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 218-210.