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H.R. 5, The Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011

  • This item is from the 112th Congress (2011-2012) and is no longer current. Comments, voting, and wiki editing have been disabled, and the cost/savings estimate has been frozen.

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H.R. 5 would 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.

Detailed Summary

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Status of the Legislation

Latest Major Action: 3/26/2012: Read the second time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 338.

Points in Favor

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Points Against

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    Saves: $249.72 per
    and decreases their $162,301.27 share of the national debt by $361.97.
    (source info)

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Visitor Comments Comments Feed for This Bill

Larry Mallette

February 5, 2011, 3:58pm (report abuse)

This is a very bad bill. Insurance companies and drug companies DO NOT NEED TO BE SHIELDED in this way. There is no justification for such a blatant power grab by these industries.

The limitation of awards for pain and suffering for medical malpractice law suits is needed as part of parcel of any national health care reform act in order to keep enough physicians in business to provide the needed care.

But this bill goes far beyond this needed action by including such things as defective product suits in "health care" related suits. Bad Idea!

I can not support this bill.

Kathymarie

March 5, 2011, 8:31pm (report abuse)

Noneconomic damages should be limited. This bill places a cap of $250,000 on such damages. Punitive damages are also capped by this bill.

Donna Baver Rovito

March 14, 2011, 2:47pm (report abuse)

Nothing in this bill would limit the quantifiable damages which should rightly be paid to a legitimate victim of medical malpractice.

Patients would STILL be able to collect unlimited damages for medical care, lost wages or a lifetime's worth of lost POTENTIAL wages, home care, devices specially outfitted vehicles, home alterations necessitated by an injury, even child care, house cleaning and lawn care if needed.

Personal injury lawyers would have everyone believe that limiting NON-economic damages to $250,000 would mean that injured people can ONLY collect $250,000, but that's a lie.

Specially trained actuaries can calculate quantifiable expenses that should be covered - but personal injury lawyers know that REAL "jackpot" justice lies in NON-quantifiable items like "pain and suffering", so they're able to convince a jury that someone's injuries are worth hundreds of millions of dollars - really, it's all just a way for them to increase their 40% cut.

Sam Deshayes

May 31, 2011, 11:43pm (report abuse)

Limiting non-economic damages is not going to prevent those who have suffered from medical malpractice from collecting a reasonable amount on their suffering. They can still collect an unlimited amount on their economic quantifiable damages.

Also, if the medical malpractice is truly outrageous there is the option of punitive damages of up to twice the amount collected in economic damages.

Deidre

June 1, 2011, 3:11am (report abuse)

I support this bill. First, the 3-year cap on the statute of limitations is fair: this is a reasonable amount of time to come forward about malpractice. Second, this bill would reduce insurance premiums, saving us money, even if it only is $35.

Jobany Garcia

June 2, 2011, 6:37pm (report abuse)

I support this bill and i believe it will be very cost effective to our economy. I believe the statue of limitations for 3 years is appropriate. This bill will provide prevenative care with no co-pays and help cap out of pocket costs. Lower Premiums and overall help a lot of people.

Katie Roberts

June 3, 2011, 3:24am (report abuse)

I think this bill would be great. It puts limits on things that should be limited and it will help people to save money. It will in the long run help everyone. It will lower premiums so you aren't paying as much. It will make healthcare more affordable I believe.

Tonya Gregoire

June 3, 2011, 4:35am (report abuse)

I support this bill because I support caps on the medical field. Without caps health care wouldn’t be affordable. Doctors wouldn’t be able to afford insurance if there were no caps and there would be fewer doctors because of this. This bill will lower the cost of medical care so it’s more affordable to the average family. I support the statute of limitations that a person only has 1 year after discovery of the injury to file suit because I don’t feel it should take longer than that. I believe this bill will do good for many people in many different ways.

Valerie Rittenbach

June 3, 2011, 8:40pm (report abuse)

I support this bill because I think there needs to be restrictions on damages awarded in health care lawsuits. I agree with many things within this bill including the statute of limitations for beginning a lawsuit, not placing limitations on the amount of damages for economic losses, there is a maximum cap for contingency fees, and that punitive damages can be awarded. I think that with all lawsuits, there needs to be limitations on the amount of damages that can be awarded. I think by having limitations, people are still getting what they need and deserve, but aren’t getting outrageous money judgments that gives them a “payday” as opposed to allowing them to reasonably recover. I'm not sure this will really lower the cost of health care for families, but restrictions are necessary and if it does save money for families, then that is good.

Nickie Dawkins

June 4, 2011, 7:40pm (report abuse)

I support this bill. Anything that would help lower health care costs is a good idea. I also think this bill will help limit the abuse of the health care system, and stop a lot of the fraudulent injury claims. I also think the 1 year statue of limitations is fair, and plenty of time to file an injury claim, considering most people file a claim soon after the injury occurred.

Crystal Thoreson

June 5, 2011, 8:43pm (report abuse)

For the most part I oppose this bill. I do feel that the 3 year statute of limitations is fair, but I do not agree with the limit of damages being capped at $250,000. I feel that this protects healthcare providers and insurance companies from paying the fair amount of non-economic, economic, and punitive damages. I also feel that medical malpractice would be lessened if there was a higher risk of damages awarded to an individual, therefore lessening the cost of insurance and state aid to help people that have had life changing injuries.

Joyce Pettis

June 5, 2011, 10:51pm (report abuse)

I support this bill because it would help to reduce healthcare costs by setting conditions for medical lawsuits, provides a 3-yr statute of limitations to file a claim for injury, and limits non-economic damages to $250,000. I believe these are steps in the right direction in the improvement of healthcare and helping to stop the improper use of the system.

Maari R

June 6, 2011, 12:41am (report abuse)

I think any help in lowering the cost of health care would be good. Healthcare can be so expensive, so even a little bit of help is favorable. I don't see an issue of damages being capped at $250,000 because if there was not a cap, people would go crazy filing suits for millions and it can be way controversial.

Kelsey Brehm

June 6, 2011, 1:14am (report abuse)

I fully support this bill because the cost of health care is, in my opinion, ridiculously high! Anything to help lower it would be amazing. I recently had to sign up for my own health insurance through work and can barely afford to make bills plus pay the amount required for just myself. For a necessity, it shouldn't be so challenging to afford. This bill helps patients receive health care at a lower cost with a higher chance of receiving compensation in negligence claims. It aims to ensure that the patients of a liability claims will receive more in damages than the attorney representing them. I think that is very important since the amount the attorney will make generally comes from the patient. This bill is directed towards two very costly services and aims to make them affordable.

Aimie Sinju

June 10, 2011, 4:46am (report abuse)

I support this bill because I think anything we can do to lower the cost of health care is beneficial to all. The statute of limitations of three years is reasonable, while the limit for non-economic damages is $250,000, patients can still collect reasonable damages for medical expenses, lost wages, etc.

Kristie W

September 7, 2011, 11:22pm (report abuse)

I support this bill because I think something has to be done to lower the cost of health care. Also, I feel that the statute of limitations set is fair.

I feel that even a little lower cost of health care will be beneficial.

Shantel M

September 9, 2011, 8:15pm (report abuse)

Setting liable limits on liability cases infridges the right of every American because the government does not have the right to put a price on the worth of someone's life.These matters should be left to the purview of the court system.

Ashley B

September 10, 2011, 5:00pm (report abuse)

I agree with portions of the bill and I also disagree with portions of the bill. I do not think there should be a limit of $250,000 on noneconomic damages. What if the damages equal more than the $250,000? It seems unfair to the deserving party. I do agree though those punitive damages would only be awarded if it is proven clear and with convincing evidence.

Torey Lynn

September 10, 2011, 10:31pm (report abuse)

I support this bill because we need to restrict the amount in damages that can be awarded in malpractice lawsuits. Many people state they are opposed because they fear the cap would include economic losses on the victims who need that. That isn't the case. They want to cap the amount in damages for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. They would still be entitled to unlimited damages for lost wages, potential lost wages, any medical care needed due to the injury, any remodeling of the home to make it accessible for the injured, anything like wheelchairs and handicap accessible vehicles, etc. The statute of limitations seems more than fair, you should be filling immediately after the injury or knowledge of the injury which seems like it can very easily be done in that amount of time. Restrictions are necessary to protect the doctors and the real victims and prevent false suits. It will also help lower the cost of healthcare to families making it more attainable to all.

Nicole Vasapolli

September 11, 2011, 7:09pm (report abuse)

I support this bill because for one it will help reduce the frivolous medical lawsuits that are raising the cost of healthcare. It will eliminate financial incentives for people filing these lavish lawsuits. So, people who are wronged will receive fair and timely reimbursements. Sadly, malpractice insurance rates have forced good doctors to close their practice. It will improve both patient access to healthcare services and medical care. It will also ensure patients are fully compensated and that these respected doctors will stay in business.

Cassie Lynn

September 11, 2011, 9:17pm (report abuse)

I support this bill and I think it is a step in the right direction for stopping frivolous medical malpractice suits. I do however feel opposed to putting a cap on damages that can be awarded. I feel this way simply because I believe that our justice system and our judges can make fair and reasonable decision in cases. I think every case is different and in most cases $250,000 or less would be sufficient. But, I also feel that there are times and special cases when a $250,000 cap could hurt someone who deserves more. That is just my opinion, but otherwise I support this bill and think it is a great step in the right direction!

Nicole Imholte

September 12, 2011, 12:22am (report abuse)

I support this bill because the major provisions would benefit patients by awarding injured patients noneconomic damages up to $250,000, but awarding UNLIMITED economic damages. It would also establish a cap on attorney's fees which benefits the patient's recovery monetarily. As a parent with a child with a disability, I rely on specialists and do not want them to become few and far between because they cannot afford malpractice insurance due to frivolous law suits.

Kris Montoya

September 12, 2011, 2:00am (report abuse)

There are certain parts of the bill are great and other parts needs more revising. One part allows the court to restrict the payment of attorney contingency fees. I feel less people will be able to afford an attorney. The only way a lot of the cases end up in front of a judge is because the attorney knows they will get contingency fees. The bill also denies punitive damages in the case of products approved, cleared, or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or otherwise considered in compliance with FDA standards. This is another section that I don’t agree with. Over the years there have been several drugs that have been approved by the FDA that have later been found to cause certain aliments in person taking the medication. Granted there is an inherent risk to all medications however you trust that the FDA would not approve a drug that could potentially cause more harm than good.

Susanne Myers

September 12, 2011, 2:25am (report abuse)

I support this bill anything at this point is better than nothing. Better patient care, health care system share information. Speedly law suit claims resolved. Court supervision to protect against conflicts of interest to help maximize patient recovery. Putting limits on costs, so health care is not so costly.

Vanessa Johnson

September 12, 2011, 3:17am (report abuse)

I do not agree with this bill at all. With respect to the contingency fees, wouldn't you want to be paid for work and time you put into any job? This bill takes that away. No one wants to work for free. How can we expect lawyers to take cases they won't be paid for if they don't win? Another thing I have a problem with is putting caps on pain and suffering. I feel that there should be compensatory punishment put on health care practitioners who perform negligently on their jobs.

Karen Rieger

September 12, 2011, 5:01am (report abuse)

I do not support this bill. I do not agree with capping a doctor's mistake at $250,000. This bill would ignore patient safety. If this bill would pass, it would take away all accountability of doctors and hospitals.

Sarah Lee

September 22, 2011, 9:27am (report abuse)

I agree with the bill in terms of limiting the amount of money attorneys collect on awards. The bigger the judgment, the more the client will receive to recover from the injuries suffered because of malpractice. Attorneys have a bad reputation of being ambulance chasers. This bill could alter the perception that attorneys really want to help their clients heal instead of wanting to line their own pockets with money. This bill could help reduce the cost and length of litigation.

Elizabeth Holder

November 29, 2011, 4:38pm (report abuse)

I agree with this bill. While it is an impossible task to set a monetary value on a person’s pain and suffering and non-economic loss, there has to be a limit on punishment. Especially, considering that the cost of increased liability insurance will be passed along to consumers making health care less affordable for everyone. When researching this bill, I saw that many opponents were claiming that this bill goes against the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution, but I do not see this as a valid argument. The right of a jury trial is not being taken away. This bill only places a restriction on the amount of money that potentially emotionally driven people are being allowed to award. Lately, opponents have also started to argue that this bill violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. However, this bill’s opponents seem to have ignored the Eighth Amendment, which sets forth that there should be no “excessive fines imposed.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII.

Nicolle Bengtson

December 1, 2011, 6:42pm (report abuse)

Obviously something needs to happen in this economy, and I support this bill, and feel like if this can help save money and put limitations to certain things like attorney fees, or how long someone has to sue, then that is a great idea. Now when I go and visit my OB there needs to be a female in the room, to protect the doctor and help with their insurance premiums. Really something needs to be done, and I will support this bill!

Igor V

December 3, 2011, 3:13am (report abuse)

I have read this bill twice for a class that I am taking in my quest to receive a Bachelors in Paralegal Studies diploma. I know my knowledge as a second year Paralegal student is limited. But here is what I have to say.

In good faith, I simply cannot support any bill that clears the FDA from being sued even after they have made terrible mistakes. Recently the FDA decided to unapproved a drug that has been used for a very long time for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, the drug is called Avastin. Here is what the FDA website statement says “Avastin used for metastatic breast cancer has not been shown to provide a benefit, in terms of delay in the growth of tumors, that would justify its serious and potentially life-threatening risks." And this type of thing happens all the time, the FDA should be held accountable for what they do and don’t do.

I may be wrong, but this bill would also clear drug companies from being sued, if their products had been approved by the FDA.

Steffi Nenn

December 3, 2011, 9:50pm (report abuse)

I support this bill. I support that there is a cap on the amount awarded. I think this allows for more clarity; with a cap it sets a "worst-case scenario" for the awards. I really like that is also sets limits on the amount the attorneys claim. The statute of limitations seems fair. I think this bill offers boundaries that are needed, and will be value added.

Hannah

December 4, 2011, 7:11pm (report abuse)

I support this bill as it will help lower medical costs. Something has to be done about the cost of health care and I think this will definitely help. Patients will still receive fair compensation if they are injured, and although it is hard to put a cap on damages for pain and suffering but I think it needs to be done. Patients will also receive better care. I would much rather have my doctor give me the care I need than give me inadequate care because of the excessive fear of malpractice suits.

Taylre

December 4, 2011, 10:10pm (report abuse)

I truly support this bill. The health care in our country is outrageously expensive, and some actions need to take place. I think this bill will be a step in the right direction for lowering costs of health care services. I feel that capping the statute of limitations to three years for a medical malpractice claim is very fair. I am also in favor of capping awards for damages. Replacing joint-and-several liability with the fair-share rule makes perfect sense, and does seem very fair. Overall, I think this bill would benefit most Americans.

April M

December 5, 2011, 4:00am (report abuse)

I support this bill. I would hope that it would help curb health care costs as they have become much too expensive. A three year statute of limitations is very reasonable. Injuries will still be compensated to the degree of the defendant's fault and establishes a sliding scale limiting attorney contingency fees, this means more would go to the injured party, not to the attorney. Although this bill may not be the best for every situation that arises, it is a starting point to deter frivolous lawsuits and provides boundaries in an attempt to eventually reign in healthcare costs.

Tracey Jackson

December 5, 2011, 7:34am (report abuse)

I support this bill,Healthcare is far to expensive, especially when you are a single mother and my work does not offer benefits. I feel the 3 year statute is fare and liability should be base on the percentage of responsibility.

carolina13

(logged-in user) December 7, 2011, 6:04am (report abuse)

I support this bill. This bill caps the non-economical damages but does noting to the economical damages a patient can recover. A patient can still recover an unlimited amount of damages for actual economic losses in a lawsuit. The non-economic damages compensate injuries and looses that are not easily quantified by a dollar amount. For example; physical and emotional pain, distress, loss of enjoyment or loss of consortium, they all are non-economic damages.

I also think the statute of limitations of 3 year is very reasonable. It would speed the process of resolutions of claims. I think this bill would help stop the vicious cycle of the insurance companies and it will make health care more accessible to everybody.

Meka613

March 1, 2012, 5:31pm (report abuse)

I support this bill because healthcare now is ridiculously high! And any amount of money that a family can save would be a plus. I also think that the 3-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, with certain exceptions, from the date of discovery of an injury; is especially acceptable. I think healthcare for Americans should be affordable period!

Troy Arnold

March 2, 2012, 3:01pm (report abuse)

I suuport the bill, because of the rising costs of healthcare and the ridiculous amounts, that people can get when they win a claim. There is a cap of $250,000. I like that there is a limitation of 3 years after the injury or 1 year after the injury was found.

Becki Emerfoll

March 2, 2012, 3:18pm (report abuse)

I support this bill. Healthcare costs are out of control in this country and these claims are one of the reasons why. Putting caps and statute of limitations on these is a good place to start to lower the cost of heathcare to individuals. When a doctor is sued a lot of times the case is dismissed but the cost to the doctor is around $25,000. That cost is kicked back to the public.

Kimberly Krupka

March 4, 2012, 5:02am (report abuse)

I support this bill because it's protecting Health care, insurance companies, and companies who use FDA approved products from people suing for unnecessary amount of damages. By putting a cap on punitive, I think it will lower the amount of malpractice and other law suits. There are too many people out there looking for a free money, so they decide to sue every medical clinic they come into contact with for malpractice. When companies use FDA approved products, they are not expecting those products to be defective in anyway. What if, the Largest Medical devise company has a recall on one of their FDA approved devices or prescriptions, 100 people sure for 1 million dollars a piece. If there is no cap on punitive damages this company could probably go under, owing $100 Million.If this company goes under; thousands of different medical devices or prescriptions would no longer be available. What if this company made Hundreds of life saving drugs? How will people get their medication?

Corisa Urban

March 4, 2012, 2:34pm (report abuse)

- I am not in favor of the bill because I think non-economic damages should be allowed to exceed $250,000. In some severe cases, for a victim of medical malpractice who suffers a life altering injury, $250,000 is simple not sufficient. Examples of life altering injuries include extreme disfigurement, sterility, physical impairment, severe pain and suffering, blindness, incapacitation, and loss of a loved one. However, other than this element, I agree with the other components involved, and that the bill should be enacted but with a $2,000,000 cap-and even this is truly a conservative compromise!

Nikki C

March 5, 2012, 4:17am (report abuse)

I support this bill. I believe that the American Health Care system needs some reform, and the other ideas that have been brought up have not been ideal enough for people to agree with, or to not view it as a socialists idea on health care.

Ron Reeder

March 6, 2012, 3:00am (report abuse)

Yes there should be limits. There are too many people and there lawyers trying to make a dishonest buck.

Emily L

May 31, 2012, 11:20pm (report abuse)

I fully support this bill. I believe there should be restrictions on damages rewarded in in any form of health care lawsuit. If there is no cap people will be suing hospitals and clinics like crazy. As far as I'm concerned people are money hungry and will do just about anything to make a dollar. I agree with many aspects of this bill including the statute of limitations (three years) and there is a maximum for contingency fees. In the long run I believe this will really lower the cost of health care for families.

Jena Neumiller

June 3, 2012, 10:39pm (report abuse)

The main reason why I support this bill is because it would make each party of the lawsuit liable only for the amount of damages that are directly proportional to each party’s percentage of responsibility. This seems fair. H.R. 5 seeks to limit the amount of punitive and noneconomic damages that juries can award, shorten the statute of limitations, and restrict the recovery of attorneys’ fees in medical liability cases. I feel that this bill would work out for everyone, helping all to an extent and not favoring anyone. H.R. 5 would enable a plaintiff to recover his or her full economic loss, but it would limit a plaintiff from recovering more than $250,000 in non-economic damages; this is good because the plaintiff would be receiving what he deserves but not in excess that is unnecessary. H.R. 5 also would establish a fair share rule that apportions damages based on a defendant’s degree of fault. Hopefully one day meaningful medical liability reform will become a reality.

Leah Watkins

June 4, 2012, 3:05am (report abuse)

I support this bill. I feel that our nation needs this help based on the economic state that we are currently in. Our elders really do need help and I feel that if someone is willing to do something about it, there is no reason why we shouldn't try!

Paige

June 4, 2012, 4:18am (report abuse)

I support this bill because it is cost effective and it will help low-income citizens. There should be a limited amount of recovering damages, but should be case by case.

Stacy Diemel

September 11, 2012, 12:58am (report abuse)

I oppose this bill. How about we let the courts decide the amount of damages that should be awarded. There are individual's who may in fact be entitled to more than the $250,000. Irresponsible drug companies should not be immune from liability, they need to be held accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of the consumers.

Scott1969

(logged-in user) September 14, 2012, 5:30pm (report abuse)

Anything that can help save us money in this country is a good thing. I am all for lowering co payments and or out of pocket expenses when it comes to insurance benefits. Insurance company's make a lot of money as it is. I believe there should be a limit as to how much a person receives as a result of malpractice or a case in which someone was injured by another party. What that amount is is not for me to decide though. As I stated earlier if it will help us save money for medical care then I am all for this.

P.Faulks

September 16, 2012, 6:50pm (report abuse)

I believe that this bill would be beneficial in the overall picture of things. It attempts to lower cost of health care by eliminating frivolous claims that have no merit. I also agree with the statue of limitations that is imposed for when a claim can be brought. Lastly, I agree with the idea on how the damages would be awarded specifically involving a lawyer with a contingency fee.

TH

September 17, 2012, 1:59am (report abuse)

I support this bill for the most part. I believe that 3 year statute of limitations is more than enough time to come forward with your claim. I also agree that setting a cap for non-economic damages would be more than enough money in most situations. I also like the idea of decreasing the cost of healthcare would be great since it is very expensive and many people have to decide to go without so they can afford the other things they need in life. My problem with this bill comes into play when they start dictating who you can and cannot sue. If a medical professional commits malpractice while volunteering, I don't believe they are any less responsible for the damages than if they were getting paid. Volunteer medical personnel should not be protected from being sued, they should just do their best when volunteering as well as when they are getting paid.

Katie Burns

September 17, 2012, 4:09am (report abuse)

I think that this bill would be good. It is attempting to lower the cost of health care which would be good for everyone. I think another good thing is that they would be setting a cap for how much money would be recieved due to damages. As long as this number is up there I think this would benefit a lot of people so that they could get more than they would even need. This is also a good bill for our elders, everyone would benefit from this bill not only our elders but anyone who seeks medical attention which is everyone in the world. At some point something is going to happen where you need to go to the hospital or someone in your family does.

Kristina Anderson

December 6, 2012, 6:57pm (report abuse)

I support this bill for many reasons. First of all, it would reduce insurance premiums and in this economy I know we all would like to save anything we can. Secondly, the 3-year cap on the statute of limitations is more than a reasonable amount of time to come forward about malpractice. Thirdly, legitimate victims would still be able to collect damages. Lastly, this bill would improve the efficiency and timely manner of healthcare.

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