Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017” or H.R. 1215.
I, as well as others here, have written about H.R.1215 in the past, but for those readers that may have missed prior posts, here are a few key points you should know.
- All healthcare claims would be federal cases, bypassing state laws.
- Patients would be required to submit their case to a panel of three doctors. That panel would decide whether the doctor’s conduct complied with certain professional rules.
- All claims would be capped at $250,000 on pain and suffering, regardless of the degree of harm done. It would be mandated in states even where such caps are prohibited. The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D) has provided asimplified chart of state caps to show where each state currently stands.
- Imposing a statute of limitations of three years from the date of injury or one year from when an injury is discovered.
- Federal repeal of state joint and several liability laws, meaning that the injured patient must cover the cost of an injury if one of the wrongdoers cannot pay.
- Restricting who can be named as a defendant in a case against a drug company over an unsafe drug, even if a healthcare provider negligently prescribed or administered the drug and is jointly responsible for causing injury or death.
- In cases where the plaintiff wins the case, the insurance company may pay the settlement or verdict in installments rather than in a lump sum payment.
As you can see, the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017” is all about protecting negligent doctors, negligent hospitals and other negligent medical providers from being held fully liable for the harms they’ve caused by denying full and fair compensation their victims. It is simply the latest measure intended to deny the right to pursue litigation if you or a loved one is injured, maimed, or killed due to medical malpractice, negligent nursing homes, dangerous medical devices, or dangerous drugs. Any attempt to take power away from a jury is an attempt to take power from citizens.
The bill should be called “Preventing Access to Court Act of 1215”; that is a more accurate description of what this bill is and what it does. It is the opinion of Lawsuit Financial that “Access to Care” and “Access to Court” do not have to be mutually exclusive. We citizens deserve both. If safety standards are violated; if a bad product is made or bad care is provided, we should have the right to full compensation from the wrongdoer. Accountability is a safety incentive. Don’t want to be sued? Make safer products; provide safer care. BE MORE CAREFUL. But don’t dump the cost of carelessness on “we, the people.” Don’t bail out the wealthy or corporate wrongdoer at the expense of injured, disabled or deceased citizens. That is, absolutely, the wrong approach for America where we have a 7th Amendment that protects the right to a jury trial in all civil cases.
Lawsuit Financial stands in support of plaintiffs’ rights and the civil justice system, and we oppose any bill that restricts the rights of Americans. We support 80 organizations, and counting, that have signed a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. If you want to stop Congress from eliminating your rights to hold the parties that harmed you or your loved ones accountable, call your legislators and encourage them to vote NO on H.R 11215. Tell them that your vote in the next election is dependent upon their rejection of this terrible, anti-justice, legislation.
Mark Bello has practiced law for 40 years. He is currently the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company, and the author of the legal thriller “Betrayal of Faith” available on major online book store sites.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. The series consists of "Betrayal of Faith", "Betrayal of Justice", and "Betrayal in Blue", with a fourth book due out in January 2018. You can learn more about these topical political, legal thrillers at www.markmbello.com. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.