Gingrey introduces Medical Liability Reform legislation

Bipartisan bill will ensure physicians are in our communities when we need them

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Washington, Jun 6, 2007 | Becky Ruby ((202) 225-2931) | comments

U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA) today introduced the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act, legislation to reduce frivolous medical lawsuits that are raising the cost of healthcare and driving many physicians out of business.  This bipartisan bill would abolish the financial incentives for filing expansive lawsuits, while providing a fair and timely reparations process for those who have been wronged.

“As a practicing OB-GYN for nearly 30 years, I saw skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates force good doctors to hang up their stethoscopes for good,” said Gingrey.  “Already, brain trauma patients are suffering as emergency rooms scramble to find on-call specialists. Women are forced to cross state lines just to deliver a baby.  Rural communities are left without hospitals.  This shouldn’t be happening in America, home to the best physicians and healthcare technology in the world.”

“Today’s medical tort system is designed for lawyers, not patients,” Gingrey continued.  “Average awards in medical malpractice cases have risen 76% in recent years.  This drives doctors to practice defensive medicine, adding $126 billion a year to our national healthcare costs.  By reforming our medical liability system, patients can still recover full economic damages, such as medical bills and lost income – after all, those who have been wronged deserve fair compensation.  But my legislation would put reasonable limits on run-away non-economic damages, and even maximize patient awards by ensuring the bulk of a patient’s recovery is not misdirected to an attorney.  Patients across America are depending on Congress to pass the HEALTH Act.”

The HEALTH Act:

--  Limits the amount of non-economic damages, or “pain and suffering” awards, to $250,000.
--  Will not permit punitive damages unless an actual economic judgment is rendered, and then limits the amount to no greater than twice the economic damages.
--  Maximizes patients’ awards by allowing courts to ensure an unjust portion of the patient’s recovery is not misdirected to an attorney.
--  Allows patients to recover the full cost of economic damages, such as medical bills and lost income. 

The HEALTH Act currently has 57 co-sponsors.

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